Architectural and design innovations to help combat COVID–19

As the world battles the novel coronavirus, STIR draws a comprehensive list of design and architectural solutions that are helping fight and prevent the spread of the disease.

by STIRworld Published on : Apr 15, 2020

The proverbial saying, “necessity is the mother of invention” has never been truer. What could be more ‘necessary’ than to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which has the world in its virus-y grip. As COVID-19 rears its ugly, highly infectious head, and medical professionals across the world face severe shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the design and architectural industry is extending its arms to help as best in these troubled times.

We are seeing luxury fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton and Prada shelling out face masks; tech giants Google and Apple have designed websites specifically for diagnosing and screening the disease, and architectural giants BIG and Foster + Partners are mass manufacturing 3D printed face shields for healthcare workers.

STIR presents a comprehensive list of architectural and design solutions that have sprung up this year to effectively curb the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.

Face shields designed and manufactured by Foster + Partners | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
Face shields designed and manufactured by Foster + Partners Image Credit: Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) seems to be the ubiquitous word of the month; health workers worldwide are facing a massive shortage of PPE, which include hospital gowns, face shields/ visors and face masks. A growing number of designers, fashion houses and architecture studios from across the world are mass producing PPE to protect health workers who are treating COVID-19 patients. They are employing their own materials, 3D printers and laser cutters to make these masks and shields to donate to hospitals and other frontline workers.

Protective Face Shields/ Visors

These shields (or visors) are screens to cover the face in order to block the droplet infection from transmitting, from entering the eyes, nose and mouth and to prevent medical workers from touching their faces. These transparent visors are worn over other protective equipment like surgical masks or respirators, and is like an added layer of protection. Made up of a layer of plastic that covers the face and a strap or headband that holds it in place, these are also the easiest type of PPE to use and manufacture.

Erik Cederberg of 3DVerkestan
Sweden

Erik Cederberg of 3DVerkestan (a Swedish 3D printing company) has created an open source file that is now being used as a base by major architectural firms like BIG, Höweler + Yoon Architecture and Kohn Pedersen Fox, to 3D print and manufacture face shields across America.

Bjarke Ingels Group
United States

Bjarke Ingels Group’s office in New York is overseeing the production of nearly 5,000 face shields a week, to help protect medical staff in NYC hospitals and clinics, who are treating coronavirus patients.

3D production of face visors designed by BIG New York Image Credit: Courtesy of big_builds

Höweler + Yoon Architecture
United States

Eric Höweler of Höweler + Yoon Architecture has made his own version of the face visor, based on Erik Cederberg’s prototype. The firm is producing PPE to supply to Weill Cornell Medicine hospital in New York.

Eric Höweler of Höweler + Yoon Architecture wearing a 3D printed face shield Image Credit: Courtesy of ehoweler

Foster + Partners
United Kingdom

“To aid the fight against Covid-19, Foster + Partners has designed a general-purpose prototype face visor, suitable for cleaning and reuse. It is specifically aimed at fast mass production. “We are sharing the design templates and material specifications as an open-source design asset. This is to encourage both designers, and in particular large-scale manufacturers to investigate the potential of digital and laser cutting machines as an alternative to 3D printing technology,” reads the caption under their official Instagram post.

  • Components of the face shields designed and manufactured by Foster + Partners | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
    Components of the face shields designed and manufactured by Foster + Partners Image Credit: Courtesy of Foster + Partners
  • The face shield’s plastic screen | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
    The face shield’s plastic screen Image Credit: Courtesy of Foster + Partners
  • Manufacture of the face shield’s strap that will hold it in place | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
    Manufacture of the face shield’s strap that will hold it in place Image Credit: Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF)
United States

Joining the mass face shield manufacturing in the United States is Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), with the architectural firm producing face visors for medical staff at the Cornell Weill Medical Center in New York City. Their plan allows KPF’s Ultimaker machines to mass print up to 400 visor frames in a day.

3D printed visors by Kohn Pedersen Fox Image Credit: Courtesy of kohnpedersenfox

Handel Architects
United States

“Grateful to everyone involved in the planning, design, production, and distribution of these face shields, which can help protect health care workers while treating COVID-19 patients in close contact. The visor designed by Erik Cederberg/3DVerkstan can be printed in PETG or other plastics. The shield can be made from any .1mm to 1mm clear plastic and a three-hole punch. Both pieces are in high demand and can be donated to local hospitals,” reads the caption under their official Instagram post.

3D printed visors by Handel Architects Image Credit: Courtesy of handelarchitects

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
United States

An MIT team has initiated mass manufacture of disposable PPE in response to the global pandemic. The high demand for face shields prompted the design team to come up with a quick production process, and added face coverage in its single piece face shield design. “The face shield provides healthcare workers with full coverage around the forehead, neck, and sides of the face… MIT plans on purchasing the first 40,000 face shields to donate to local Boston-area hospitals this week and the fabrication facilities involved in its production will donate 60,000,” reads the description on their official website.

01 min watch A single piece, disposable PPE manufactured and designed by a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
A single piece, disposable PPE manufactured and designed by a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Video Credit: Courtesy of MIT Project Manus

Adidas
Germany

The sportswear giant adidas has collaborated with software company Carbon to produce 3D printed face shields to support healthcare workers, using the same material that they co-created for high performance footwear before.

adidas in collaboration with Carbon is 3D printing face shields Image Credit: Courtesy of adidas

Nike
United States

“Working closely with health professionals at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Nike’s innovation, manufacturing and product teams have come together to provide for an urgent need: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the form of full-face shields and powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses to protect against the coronavirus (COVID-19),” the official website relays.

Nike’s PPE Face Shield | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
Nike’s PPE Face Shield Image Credit: Courtesy of Nike

Nagami Design
Spain

Spanish furniture brand Nagami Design has stepped into producing 3D face shields for coronavirus patients and medical staff treating them. Their COVID-19 visor comprises a plastic screen that is secured by elastic. A robotic arm can be seen printing these shields, made from Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol (PETG), a durable and recyclable material. These are being donated to hospitals across Madrid, addressing the shortage of PPE in hospitals and coronavirus treatment wards.

Spanish furniture company Nagami Design is now producing 3D printed face shields Image Credit: Courtesy of nagami.design

Folds design studio
India

Along with Tessaract and Super tech engineers, Mumbai-based Folds Design Studio has supplied over 8,500 face visors to NGOs and hospitals (such as Apollo, Fortis, Nanavati) combating the novel coronavirus.

Mumbai based Folds Design Studio has supplied over 8,500 face visors to NGO’s, friends and hospitals Image Credit: Courtesy of foldsdesignstudio

Tokujin Yoshioka
Japan

Japan-based artist and designer Tokujin Yoshioka has come up with an ‘easy-to-make’ face shield, a three-step process which he has posted on his website (with free access) and Instagram page – put template on top of a clear plastic sheet, cut along guidelines and attach to your spectacles.

Tokujin Yoshioka’s easy-to-make face shield Image Credit: Courtesy of tokujin_yoshioka

Face Shield by Apple
United States

Tech giant Apple has also launched their efforts to safeguard frontline medical workers facing immense shortage of supplies, by promising to supply 20 million face shields. Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a video on Twitter, said the company has shipped some masks to healthcare facilities in California's Santa Clara Valley in the United States.  

01 min watch Instructions to assemble the Face Shield designed by Apple | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
Instructions to assemble the Face Shield designed by Apple Video Credit: Courtesy of Apple

Non-Surgical Face Masks

Famous fashion brands are in the process of churning out non-surgical, everyday use face masks and surgical gowns, to aid medical personnel and the general public to fight the pandemic.

Prada
Italy

Luxury brand Prada is the latest to manufacture surgical, cotton face masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Italy. “We want to thank our exceptional team, who are selflessly and tirelessly working at the Prada factory in Montone, Italy, which remained open for the purpose of production of non-surgical masks to be delivered to healthcare personnel in Italy,” reads their Instagram post.

Face masks by luxury brand Prada Image Credit: Courtesy of prada

Louis Vuitton
France

Global luxury house Louis Vuitton has also transitioned into manufacturing face masks, and will donate to frontline health workers. It has retrofitted five of its high-end fashion workshops in France to non-surgical mask production sites.

Face masks by luxury house Louis Vuitton Image Credit: Courtesy of louisvuitton

Under Armour
United States

The American footwear company has started manufacturing and assembling face masks, face shields and specially equipped fanny packs, and are also in the process of fabricating hospital gowns for the University of Maryland Medical System’s 28,000 healthcare providers and staff. “The brand will also begin providing face masks to LifeBridge, a regional health care organisation based in Baltimore. Additionally, Under Armour is currently discussing the needs for supplies with Johns Hopkins Medicine, MedStar and other local medical institutions.”

Face masks, face shields and specially equipped fanny packs by sportswear brand Under Armour Image Credit: Courtesy of underarmour

Michael Costello
United States

High-end fashion and lifestyle brand Costello has dedicated itself to producing non-surgical cloth face masks ever since the pandemic caused global emergency. They have been manufacturing and shipping these cotton face masks for anyone in need and are in continued production, donating to over 45 medical organisations, other medical precincts and police stations across the United States.

High end fashion and lifestyle brand Costello has been dedicated to producing Non-Surgical cloth face masks daily Image Credit: Courtesy of michaelcostello

Others

Paul Sandip’s low cost IR Thermal Scanner NOVEL
India

Indian product designer Paul Sandip has designed NOVEL, a low-cost, contactless, Instant Fever Indicator i.e. an IR Thermal Scanner, which “can be used to quickly segregate probable corona infected patients from a crowd by just looking at colour of the LED indicator”. This simply speeds up the first level of detection and segregation – the product patent remains pending.  

Sandip explains further, “In the current scenario of corona spread, for segregating large number of people with fever, the products available in the market are quite expensive. Apart from corona epidemic, in future, it can also be used to segregate sick people in public places (where the disease can be spread) like airports, movie halls, public gatherings, markets etc.”

  • NOVEL - Low cost IR Thermal Scanner (front perspective view) by Paul Sandip | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
    NOVEL - Low cost IR Thermal Scanner (front perspective view) by Paul Sandip Image Credit: Paul Sandip
  • How to use NOVEL (patent pending)| Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
    How to use NOVEL (patent pending) Image Credit: Paul Sandip

CURA Pods by Carlo Ratti Associati
Italy

The project by Italian architects Carlo Ratti and Italo Rota converts shipping containers to self-standing hospitals to combat the shortage of ICUs during the Coronavirus pandemic.

CURA stands for Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments (and ‘cure’ in Latin). The design of the pods is such that they can be placed either in the proximity of a hospital to enlarge its existing ICU capacity or as a stand-alone medical facility in remote areas affected by the pandemic. These pods come with an inflatable tube-like structure that caters to large-scale requirement of ICUs. When connected to the individual pods, the structure turns into a corridor and helps create multiple modular configurations, resulting between four to 40 beds.

24 mins watch CURA: open-source design for emergency COVID-19 hospitals by Carlo Ratti Associati | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
CURA: open-source design for emergency COVID-19 hospitals by Carlo Ratti Associati Video Credit: Courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati

Read more about the CURA Pods here.

Weston Williamson + Partners
United Kingdom

United Kingdom-based architecture studio Weston Williamson + Partners has proposed to convert huge container ships into hospitals, which can then sail to cities infected with coronavirus, especially those that lack basic healthcare facilities. According to their design, these container hospitals will contain one intensive care unit and 2,000 beds.

  • Container ship hospital environed by UK based Weston Williamson + Partners | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
    Container ship hospital envisioned by UK based Weston Williamson + Partners Image Credit: Courtesy of Weston Williamson + Partners
  • Weston Williamson + Partners have proposed to convert huge container ships into hospitals | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
    Weston Williamson + Partners have proposed to convert huge container ships into hospitals Image Credit: Courtesy of Weston Williamson + Partners

Jupe Health flat pack intensive care unit
United States

Flat-pack startup Jupe has unveiled the "world's first standalone intensive care unit" and several other pop-up care facilities to help hospitals under pressure due to coronavirus.

Founded by entrepreneur ​Jeff Wilson and investment banker Cameron Blizzard, Jupe Health was originally founded to provide housing to the homeless. The startup has created three care facilities that can be deployed to hospitals in the United States.

  • Jupe Rest | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
    Jupe Rest Image Credit: Courtesy of Jupe
  • Jupe Care | Architecture and design against COVID - 19 | STIRworld
    WJupe Care Image Credit: Courtesy of Jupe

These three facilities include Jupe Rest (a rest area and sleeping unit for medical professionals); Jupe Care (an off-grid Deployable Wellness Unit for isolating non-critical patients with connected don/doff chamber) and Jupe Plus (the world’s first stand-alone ‘light’ intensive care unit for patients in critical care. It is PPE ready, and has ventilator and connected don/doff chamber).

Read here for more news and information about coronavirus.

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