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A 34,000 m2 hospital in 10 days. How did they do it?

The ARKIHAUS team, like the entire world population, learning from this new situation and always with the need to see the positive side of the challenges we are facing. We have seen with admiration and analysis of the construction methods that were used to build a 34,000 m2 hospital in 10 days. Below we analyze this interesting constructive case that defies the unthinkable.

The new hospital began receiving patients on Monday, February 3. The construction technique used was the origin of modern architecture, but here it is “not worth it” to save on costs. Time was a vital variable to beat. We can safely say that a feat of design and engineering has taken place in Wuhan at the epicenter of the outbreak: a 34,000 m2 hospital built in just 10 days.

The 366,000-square-foot (34,000-square-meter) two-story Huoshenshan Hospital began accepting its first patients on Monday, just over a week after the land grading work began. A second, Leishenshan Hospital, is expected to open soon, and the two facilities are expected to accommodate 1,000 and 1,500 beds respectively.

The scale and speed of construction have been made possible by prefabricated units and thousands of workers operating 24 hours a day. However, when it comes to design, hospitals had to start from scratch, according to a company source involved in the architectural design of the first facility.

Chinese state media reported that the buildings were modeled at Beijing’s Xiaotangshan Hospital in just seven days during the 2003 SARS outbreak. But the original design could not be copied in the same way.

According to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, “the authorities spent five hours on the design plan and created a tailored design project within 24 hours” to devise Huoshenshan Hospital. In addition, three companies were tasked with building the Fire God Mountain, as the medical center was called, under “the Third Construction Company Ltd. of the Third China Construction Engineering Bureau.”

In addition, the agency reported that thousands of workers working against the clock operated more than 800 construction equipment simultaneously.

“We redesigned the whole thing, we couldn’t use (the blueprint for Xiaotangshan) directly,” a source from the Wuhan construction site said by phone, adding that “the terrain and design conditions are all different.”

The Wuhan government has released information on what they claim are a number of Huoshenshan Hospital design features, such as the use of negative air pressure to ensure that ventilated air flows into, but does not exit, isolated rooms.

Currently, the effectiveness of new hospitals remains largely untested, and some observers have raised questions about their functionality and overall safety.

So how do you go about creating, in a matter of days, a large-scale field hospital that, in theory, can prevent the virus from spreading beyond and within its walls?

Isolated systems

Emergency medicine physician Dr. Solomon Kuah helped the International Rescue Committee coordinate the construction of emergency hospitals during an Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. Although the resources available to him at the time meant that field hospitals 100 to 200 beds in rural Africa would take a month or more to build, many of the underlying design principles for building makeshift hospitals are very similar.

Perhaps the most important among them is the “cohort” or zoning of patients, grouping people according to the level of risk they pose, said Kuah, who had been watching the construction of Huoshenshan Hospital through an official live broadcast.

“You may have one wing where people need to confirm if they have (the virus) and another where everyone has tested positive,” he said. “So inside the facility, people are ‘grouped’ based on how suspicious they are. Then you can sub-cohort, for example, pregnant women or people waiting for test results, or those waiting for it to end (a quarantine period). ”

Aerial photos of the facility, taken during construction, show long rectangular rooms that extend from a central axis and are otherwise completely separate from each other. A second, smaller group of structures appears to be completely disconnected from most of the hospital.

This design could reflect that wings of different levels of contagion, for example, are isolating each other to avoid cross infection. Ideally, they would also be divided from central areas by disinfection facilities, Kuah said, especially if doctors work on different patient groups.

These disinfection zones can also be used to separate rooms from the operational command center, from which medical personnel will likely coordinate care. Perhaps counterintuitively, this type of operational center probably wouldn’t be in the center of the building, Kuah said.

In the ARKIHAUS team we believe in architecture and construction as a job to transform lives in a positive way and in this collective challenge facing humanity, we are comforted by how this job can make key contributions to be part of the solution.