WTA designs Emergency Quarantine Facilities to fight COVID-19
As cities grew empty and hospitals reached full capacity, architects around the world pondered on their role in the fight against Covid-19. Confronted by the challenge of containment, Principal Architect of WTA Architecture and Design Studio William Ti collaborated with members of the community to quickly mobilize the construction of Emergency Quarantine Facilities (EQF). Ti, who spearheaded the EQF initiative, drew inspiration and knowledge from WTA’s pavilion at the most recent Anthology Architecture and Design Festival.
Built with wood and enveloped in plastic, the WTA pavilion was rapidly redesigned and repurposed into a 6m x 26m rectilinear facility equipped with 16 beds, two toilets, two showers, and designated donning and doffing areas. Like its predecessor, the EQF prioritizes speed, scalability and simplicity in its structure. The motivation to actualize the idea comes from the fact that these facilities can control the rapid spread of the virus and flatten the curve in the process. These facilities are used the next day sometimes even the same day they are finished.
The EQF, a brainchild born out of ideas of ephemerality and impermanence, is a temporary structure meant to augment hospitals’ capacity by housing mild and asymptomatic COVID-positive patients. Strategically planned to limit cross-contamination, patients and healthcare workers have designated entries and airflow is directed downwind from front to rear to prevent recirculation. The facility can be lengthened or shortened depending on need, and can likewise be aggregated in modules to accommodate many more patients.
Built with easy to use, flexible and readily-available materials, the EQF is easily replicable and scalable. To respond to the urgent and burgeoning need for facilities, logistics and construction are simplified to hasten the build process. The design’s first iteration in the Manila Naval Hospital was built in 5 days and has since grown into a network of 60 EQFs and 1000 beds, with 22 completed and 26 in construction. In a race where speed is of the essence, the 60 EQFs targeting to house a total of over 1000 beds, are to be built from the 29th of March until the 20th of April. Ti believes in democracy in design and has provided an open source link for the EQFs drawings in the hopes that communities take up the same agency and quick mobility that has been displayed since the conception of this project.
At the heart of WTA’s work is a commitment to Social Architecture and the EQF captures the firm’s focus in programmatic deconstructivism. It builds communities and finds ways to make our built environment more livable. The EQFs are built on hospital parking lots and basketball courts, advocating social intimacy and social scale in architecture by strategically inserting the facility in accessible areas. Lightweight both in aesthetics and materiality, the EQF serves the community and embodies architecture that is completely open and nonrestrictive.
This project is an exemplar of a community that contributes to a common cause; it is a beacon of what can be achieved with agency and a dedication to our society. There is always a certain beauty in finding light in the middle of the darkness.