Just a week ago, Manila-based architect William Ti was having a group chat with a couple of doctor friends about the biggest problems posed by the coronavirus locally. “PUIs [Persons Under Investigation] were being sent home from the hospitals because there was no more room,” he says. “So we started thinking about how we could roll out something that could accommodate more people.”
As the coronavirus rages, convention centers, stadiums, and other existing buildings in the U.S. are being pressed into service as temporary hospitals, typically to care for patients who don’t have the virus. The Emergency Quarantine Facility (EQF), designed in a volunteer effort by Ti’s firm, WTA Architecture + Design Studio, is targeted at yet a different population. It can take in patients who are waiting for test results or have mild symptoms but aren’t in dire straits—a way to keep potentially infected people separate from their communities.
The 15-bed EQF is the simplest facility that the firm could devise and still meet WHO guidelines for airflow and bed spacing. For a country composed of 2,000 inhabited islands, ubiquitous materials and easy assembly were critical to the design. “Speed and scalability were the primary concerns,” says Ti. Made from wood framing and plastic panels, the structure is based on a pavilion that the firm had designed for an architectural festival. The concept: a building that could be assembled from minimal drawings.