How to build a hospital in nine days: emergency architecture in a pandemic

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Soldiers from The Royal Mechanical and Electrical Engineers (REME), The Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) and the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) remove a contaminated vehicle from the Accident and Emergency entrance at Salisbury Hospital in Wiltshire on Operation MORLOP, in response to a request from the police.

(The Guardian) (…) From mobile mortuaries to drive-through testing stations and pop-up intensive care wards, the coronavirus outbreak has witnessed one of the largest ever peacetime mobilisations of temporary infrastructure. It is an Olympian effort of scaffolding, marquees, inflatable tents and portable cabins, as existing buildings have been repurposed in a matter of days. With construction having to begin before plans were finalised in many cases, architects, engineers and fabricators are responding at a speed that leaves time for no more than basic essentials. This is emergency architecture at its most elemental.

(…) While companies such as Portakabin have been supplying standard modular shells as usual, with the factories working full pelt, some situations have required more bespoke solutions. One of the most technically demanding of the temporary structures so far has been the transformation of the ExCel convention centre at the Docklands area in east London into an emergency field hospital, NHS Nightingale, ultimately capable of holding 4,000 patients. The gargantuan exhibition halls have hosted a diverse range of functions in the past, from the Crufts dog show to international arms fairs, but this incarnation has stretched the building’s flexible nature to the limit.

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