Recycling-focused studio Miniwiz, Taiwan's government and Fu Jen Catholic University Hospital have created a prototype for a modular ward using recycled aluminium panels, which would allow hospitals to quickly be adapted to fight coronavirus.
Named Modular Adaptable Convertible (MAC), the kit was developed by Miniwiz with the Center For Innovation (CFI) at Fu Jen Catholic University Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Taiwan Design Research Institute (TDRI), in response to the current pandemic.
"As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads globally, the demand for medical and hospital wards have also skyrocketed," said Miniwiz.
"To adapt to the high market demand, Miniwiz developed a MAC – Modular Adaptable Convertible – ward, which can quickly transform buildings and under-utilised space into various types of wards."
The modular units, which can be assembled either inside existing buildings or on land adjacent to hospitals, are designed to be an alternative to unsuitable temporary wards being utilised in some countries.
"People avoid going to hospitals to reduce any possible contamination risks," said Miniwiz. "Therefore, many countries have built temporary, mobile-cabin hospitals on the nearby outdoor areas, but these traditional units built with basic equipment and without ventilation can have high temperatures causing discomfort for the medical staff treating the patients."
MAC consists of a kit of interlocking parts that can be connected to create negative-pressure environments, which help control the risk of the virus spreading by containing the particles. The kit is lightweight to allow for long-distance shipping.
"With fast deployment in mind, the kit is highly mobile, and designed for air shipping, allowing the structure to be assembled within 24 hours, from component sourcing to functional wards," said Miniwiz.
Walls inside the prototype modular wards are built from Miniwiz's anti-viral and bacterial acoustic panels.
Made from recycled aluminium cans and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), these sound absorption panels are covered with an anti-bacterial coating and include an Ultraviolet self-cleaning system that Miniwiz said "reduces 99.9 per cent of bacteria count, while repelling viruses".
"Sustainable beyond concept delivery, Miniwiz will maximise the use of post-consumer single-use material including aluminium cans and PET bottles," said the studio. "These materials will then be upcycled into medical-grade antiviral/bacterial materials."
"The rPET anti-viral acoustic panel – Miniwiz's signature modular wall panel designed with curved corner for easy cleaning, recycled aluminium sheets laminated on rPET foam core, nano-grade anti-bacterial/photocatalyst coating, coupled with UV self-cleaning system, drastically reduces 99.9 per cent of bacteria count, while repelling viruses," it continued.
Following the completion of its prototype Miniwiz is hoping to collaborate further with Fu Jen Hospital to install additional modular units.
"There's a foreseeable collaboration with Fu Jen Hospital in the near future after completing the prototype, said the studio. "Since the news launch, we've received multiple inbound interest from healthcare providers in various countries."
Miniwiz was founded by Taiwanese architect and engineer Arthur Huang and fellow structural engineer Jarvis Liu in 2005 with the aim of showing how post-consumer waste could be recycled into useful products.
Huang argued during Milan Design Week this year, that bioplastics could be as damaging to the environment as those made from fossil fuels, if not more so.