How the Architecture and Design Community Is Helping Combat COVID-19

Companies and organizations, small and large, are pitching in to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

Nathan Bahadursingh Nathan Bahadursingh

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The COVID-19 pandemic has completely encircled the world, impacting nearly everyone. On the front lines of this crisis has been the medical industry, which is facing immense strain as cases rise around the globe. With governmental responses being highly varied, support for those working hands-on against the coronavirus has been heavily reliant on the grass roots efforts of local communities and private companies.

In particular, many individuals and firms within the creative industries are using their innovative and entrepreneurial qualities to support the fight against COVID-19. To raise awareness of these efforts, we’ve  assembled some of the news stories, fundraisers and volunteer opportunities that relate to the architecture  and design communities during this turbulent time. Check out the round up below, and click on the relevant links for further information.

Architectural and Design Solutions

Jupe’s portable hospital set up; image via Tech Crunch

A humanitarian startup has developed rapidly deployable, pop-up recovery units 

Jupe Health, a humanitarian startup, has developed a new type of affordable, shippable hospital room that can be quickly distributed to crisis zones amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. They also cost about 1/30th of what it takes to operate a single room in a standard hospital. (via Dwell)

A Chinese 3D-printing company has developed a 3D-printed buckle that makes face masks more comfortable to wear

Chinese 3D-printer manufacturing company, Creality, is creating thousands of buckles that make face masks less uncomfortable to wear for medical workers facing the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve made the buckle design free to download, so anyone with a suitable 3D printer can fabricate their own to use or donate. (via Dezeen)

Materialise’s hands-free door opener; image via Archinect/Materialise

A Belgian manufacturing company has created a 3D-printed, hands-free door opener

To curb the spread of COVID-19, a Belgian manufacturing company named Materialise has released free design files for a 3D-printed, hands-free door opener that makes you use your wrist instead of your bare hands to touch door handles. (via Archinect News)

CURA seeks to convert shipping containers into COVID-19 treatment centers

An international task force led by architecture studio Carlo Ratti Associati, Humanitas Healthcare and University, and the World Economic Forum, among others, is developing Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments (CURA). It is a non-profit, open source, design and build initiative that is seeking to convert shipping containers to operate as biocontainment pods. Read more here.

SheltAir; image via Dezeen

An architectural engineer has developed domed bio-containment pods to help coronavirus patients isolate

Architectural engineer Gregory Quinn has created SheltAir, a domed bio-containment pod erected using inflatable cushions that could help coronavirus patients isolate. The pods consist of a gridshell of plastic rods, which is assembled flat and pushed up through a pneumatic formwork of inflatables. (Via Dezeen)

image via HGA and The Boldt Company

HGA and The Boldt Company have developed modular critical care units to address the COVID-19 hospital bed shortage

HGA and The Boldt Company have developed the STAAT Mod™ (Strategic, Temporary, Acuity-Adaptable Treatment), a prefabricated modular solution that can deployed nationwide and the only one to provide hospital-level care (CDC recommended Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms) to patients suffering from COVID-19. They can be deployed in diverse environments from convention centers to free-standing hospital expansions. (via HGA)

Face Shields


image via NYU/Getty Images

NYU makes face shield design for healthcare workers that can be built in under a minute

New York University has developed an open-source face-shield design. It is a low cost, medical face shield that can be made using almost any flat material fabrication equipment, such as laser cutters, rule dies, drag knives, or scissors and an office hole punch, for example. It requires no hardware or 3D printed parts, just two pieces of flexible clear plastic and an elastic band. The design has been made available on their site, and NYU is offering production services as well. (via TechCrunch)

HP Inc. and Partners use 3D printing solutions to combat COVID-19

HP Inc. and partners have mobilized to create 3D printed face masks, face shield solutions, and other personal protection equipment (PPE). They have distributed more than 1000 3D-printed parts to hospitals near their 3D R&D centers in Barcelona, Spain, Corvallis, Oregon, San Diego, California, and Vancouver, Washington. They made their and other company’s 3D PPE models free to download here. (via HP)

Swedish 3D-printing company has developed and shared simple design for a face shield

Erik Cederberg of Swedish 3D-printing company 3DVerkstan has designed a 3D-printed protective visor. The simple design consists of a laser-cut clear plastic shield and a printed visor band. The company has provided links to the print files and a print settings guide. Many architects across America are basing their 3D-printed face shields on 3DVerkstan’s files. (via 3DVerkstan)

Major fashion brands have joined the fight against COVID-19

Multiple fashion brands, including the likes of Prada, COS and Louis Vuitton, have joined the fight against COVID-19 by manufacturing surgical face masks. Many other brands, including Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, have also committed to making surgical masks with luxury conglomerate LVMH promising to donate millions of masks and medical-grade respirators to replenish low supplies. (via Dezeen)

A researcher at the University of Alberta is developing a face mask that can kill the coronavirus

An assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Alberta named Choi Hyo-jick has been developing a surgical mask with an antiviral coating that can kill viruses like the coronavirus. The key ingredient is salt. (via Fortune)

The University of Cambridge and University of Queensland have teamed up to produce a design for a reusable face shield

The University of Cambridge Centre for Natural Material Innovation and University of Queensland Folded Structures Lab have developed a design for a reusable face shield which folds from a single flat sheet of clear plastic material for health workers treating COVID-19 patients. Called HappyShield, the face shield is made using curved-crease origami. It is designed to be simpler than other available options as it can be made without special equipments and with everyday materials. (via HappyShield)

Breathing Aids and Ventilators

Dyson’s new ventilator design attaches to the side of a hospital bed; image courtesy of Dyson

Dyson has developed its own ventilator for COVID-19 patients

British technology company Dyson, commonly known for their innovative vacuum cleaners, has invented a new ventilator to address the growing shortage of these essential devices. Called the CoVent, it was designed in just 10 days by leveraging Dyson’s existing digital motor. (via Architectural Digest)

University of College London and Mercedes Formula One have collaborated to build a breathing aid

University College London engineers worked with clinicians at University College London Hospitals and Mercedes Formula One to build a breathing aid, which can deliver oxygen to the lungs without needing a ventilator. They were created in under a week, and they can help keep COVID-19 patients out of intensive care. (via BBC)

Tesla will manufacture and supply FDA-approved ventilators free of charge

Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday the company has extra FDA-approved ventilators that can be shipped free of cost to hospitals within regions where the electric carmaker delivers. “Device & shipping cost are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse,” Musk said in a tweet. (via Reuters)

MIT has developed a cheap ventilator design 

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a portable ventilator that only costs $100. Named E-Vent or Emergency Ventilator, its design has been released to the open source community. (via ZDNet)

Fundraisers and Volunteer Opportunities

1. COVID-19 Supplies NYC is currently producing face shields for New York City medical workers. The site provides options to those in need of the equipment and those that are seeking to volunteer their efforts to produce the face shields or component parts for them. For volunteers, COVID-19 Supplies NYC has made their design of the face shields available to download. They are also accepting donations via this Go Fund Me.

2. COVID Emergency PPE + Supplies Volunteer Initiative is a platform formed to pool together collective networks and resources to aid in the production of emergency PPE supplies.

3. A Los Angeles fine art printing studio named POV is manufacturing medical protective equipment to assist in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The company is seeking donations to help secure more materials to continue the production of much needed medical supplies.

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Top image: Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments (CURA); image via Dezeen

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