Manila-based architecture firm WTA designs Emergency Quarantine Facilities

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine firm has designed temporary structures to increase capacity of hospitals and house people who are under investigation.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Apr 20, 2020

It has been an important question for the architecture and design community to address since the coronavirus outbreak began - how is it that one can contribute and make a difference to the world that is plagued by the deadly virus? A firm in Philippines, WTA Architecture + Design Studio, led by William Ti, has developed an alternative to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and help flatten the curve in the process.

The Emergency Quarantine Facility can be built in a span of five days | Emergency Quarantine Facility | WTA Architecture + Design Studio | STIRworld
The Emergency Quarantine Facility can be built in a span of five days Image Credit: Courtesy of WTA Architecture + Design Studio

The Manila-based WTA Architecture + Design Studio has designed a simple and easy to build and execute Emergency Quarantine Facilities (EQF) to help hospitals accommodate more people and not send patients home because of less rooms. William Ti, the Principal Architect of WTA Architecture + Design Studio, and Dr. Glenn Angeles collaborated with Maj. Carmelo Jaluague and Maj. Banjo Torres Badayo to mobilise the construction of an Emergency Quarantine Facility.

With WTA collaborating with many more people, 62 facilities are in the process of being built | Emergency Quarantine Facility | WTA Architecture + Design Studio | STIRworld
With WTA collaborating with many more people, 62 facilities are in the process of being built Image Credit: Courtesy of WTA Architecture + Design Studio

EQFs have been designed as temporary structures to augment and increase the capacity of the local hospitals in Manila, Philippines, in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic. The EQFs will house Person Under Investigation (PUI)s to keep them from spreading the infection. The idea is to be able to build enough facilities to house all PUIs and allow the virus to eventually die out. This will also prevent the hospitals from being overwhelmed due to space constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic and allow and help the country to flatten the curve of the pandemic’s growth.

The facility is being made of basic materials such as wood pallets, wood frames, insulation foam, and polyethylene sheets | Emergency Quarantine Facility | WTA Architecture + Design Studio | STIRworld
The facility is being made of basic materials such as wood pallets, wood frames, insulation foam, and polyethylene sheets Image Credit: Courtesy of WTA Architecture + Design Studio

Gauging the spread of the virus and the number of PUIs increasing every day, the main focus of the EQFs is to provide quick construction and easy scalability. “The main driving force behind EQF has been speed, closely followed by scalability and buildability. The motivation to actualise the idea comes from the fact that these facilities can control the rapid spread of the virus and flatten the curve in the process,” says the team. The structure has been designed as a simple form with such basic material requirements that it can be built in a span of five days.

EQFs have been inspired from WTA-designed pavilion, a part of the recent Anthology Architecture and Design Festival. A viable quarantine structure, the Boysen Pavilion ‘embodied speed, scalability and simplicity in its structure’. The team further adds, “since mobility and logistics are difficult under enhanced community quarantine, we need something that utilises and requires minimum manpower or construction equipment.” The EQFs are meant to use materials that are readily available and understood by anyone such that any worker can work with it, not just throughout the city but nationwide.

Floor plan of the Emergency Quarantine Facility | Emergency Quarantine Facility | WTA Architecture + Design Studio | STIRworld
Floor plan of the Emergency Quarantine Facilities Image Credit: Courtesy of WTA Architecture + Design Studio

Each facility measures 6 x 26m and will have 15 beds and two toilets. Patients and healthcare workers have different entrances with doctors having their own external testing box to check patients without having to go inside the facility. Airflow is directed one way from front to rear with side vents that discharge air away from each bed and prevent recirculation. The construction requires basic materials such as wood pallets, wood frames, insulation foam, and polyethylene sheets.

The construction and building of the facility made simple and scalable | Emergency Quarantine Facility | WTA Architecture + Design Studio | STIRworld
The construction and building of the facility made simple and scalable Image Credit: Courtesy of WTA Architecture + Design Studio

“We have made the designs open source and put them up online, so everyone can have access to them. It is our fervent hope that more groups would take up the designs and use them as they please so we can build more facilities faster,” says William Ti.

Exterior view of the Emergency Quarantine Facilities | Emergency Quarantine Facilities | WTA Architecture + Design Studio | STIRworld
Exterior view of the Emergency Quarantine Facilities Image Credit: Courtesy of WTA Architecture + Design Studio

As on April 15, 2020, the WTA Architecture + Design Studio, along with many collaborators including DEQA Design Collaborative with Principal Architect Denise De Castro, Andre Villarico and Rommell Corpuz, completed 17 EQFs, while 32 are under construction and the remaining 13 EQFs will take shape soon. Together they are on their journey to operate the building production of 62 units, providing approximately 1000 beds.

This simple initiative brings forward an innovative idea that can aid recovery of the world from the coronavirus pandemic through small and collaborative efforts.

Project Details

Name: Emergency Quarantine Facilities (EQF)
Architects: WTA Architecture + Design Studio
Location: Manila, Philippines
Height: 3.1 meters
Width: 6 meters
Capacity of 1 EQF: 15 beds
Construction period:
Construction - 3 days
Finishing - 1 day
Interior and On-boarding - 1 Day

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About Author

Meghna Mehta

Meghna Mehta

An architect by education and a journalist by passion, Mehta pursued a crossroad between her two interests. Having completed an M.Arch from CEPT University in Ahmedabad, she has worked in the field of architectural journalism for over 5 years. Besides content generation for STIR, she continues to teach in architectural schools in Mumbai.

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