Foster + Partners is the latest architecture studio to design a piece of personal protective equipment (PPE), with studios including BIG, KPF and Handel Architects already making face shields.
"Protecting front-line health workers is key and we felt this was an obvious way that we could contribute," Grant Brooker, head of studio at Foster + Partners, told Dezeen.
The mask is specifically designed so that it can be manufactured quickly and disassembled, sanitised and reused after wearing.
"We wanted to look at simple cleaning and reuse, as we know that materials are scarce and in high demand, so reuse is essential," explained Brooker.
The masks are fabricated from plastic using a laser cutting machine, as Foster + Partners believes this is faster than 3D-printing components.
"It's the approach to production that we are encouraging others to look at – we started off printing in 3D then realised we could do something a lot faster by focusing on cutting-machine technologies," Brooker said.
Each face shield is made from three components – a visor, headband and strap – which can all be laser cut. The visor is made from a 0.5-millimetre-thick piece of clear plastic, the headband a piece of the same material that's o.75 millimetre-thick and the strap from silicone.
The components for the face shields can be cut within 30 seconds and assembled in under a minute. Using one cutting machine, Foster + Partners cut and assembled 1,000 face shields in a single day.
These masks have now been distributed to health workers in London to test and the studio is exploring how to get the design approved for mass production.
The studio has made the design and material specifications available to enable others with laser cutters to begin fabrication.
Numerous designers have turned their attention to creating face shields. MIT has developed a one-piece Covid-19 face shield, while alumni from Rhode Island School of Design are also fabricating the items to meet the growing demand.