Innovative mobile healthcare shelter for quick-response disaster relief in extreme conditions
Doctors of the World mobile ‘Crisis & Legacy’ health clinic
Doctors of the World (DoTW) is an international human rights organisation, which provides emergency and longer-term medical care in crisis situations. However, deployment is not meant to be a quick fix. DoTW empowers local groups, communities, and medical experts to care for themselves by establishing robust, sustainable, healthcare environments before the team eventually moves on, sometimes decades later.
One of the biggest challenges DoTW face is that, in spite of critical and often dangerous situations, medical staff are having to care for vulnerable and excluded patients in extreme conditions with only tents or ad hoc spaces for shelter. But DoTW need acoustic privacy and the opportunity to leave a legacy for the local people – a fundamental imperative for a charity focusing on long-term systemic transformation rather than quick fixes.
That’s why Buro Happold is working closely with architects, RSHP, and environmental design consultants, ChapmanBDSP, to develop a mobile clinic which can adapt to a wide range of climates and environments. Our aim is simple. To create the best possible sanitised and confidential facility for medical services and patient comfort in some of the most remote and challenging locations on earth. Our team played a fundamental role in defining and shaping the design and build of the structure, collaborating with RSHP from the initial concept stage to work up sketches of the first iterations of the design.
A typical 17m2 mobile clinic comprises the treatment area and a sheltered waiting space with cell-phone-charging facilities. The structural frame uses slot-together carpentry connections and can be erected in a half-day by team members without special tools or previous construction experience.
The shelter’s envelope varies from location to location and structures reflect the local climate. Multiple skins can be applied as hygienic medical linings (internal), weather protection (external), or shade (a canopy). Where possible, the plywood structures are made from locally-sourced and cut materials using computer code emailed to operate local machines. If local sourcing is a non-starter, each shelter can be transported as a flexible, flat-packed kit-of-parts.
The shelter is easy to deploy and assemble, enabling DoTW’s 3,000 volunteer medics to give private consultations as soon as realistically possible after touchdown in any one of 80 countries. In the field, these new mobile health clinics will afford primary care for things like eye and skin problems, chronic conditions, and psychological support.
In addition, The Wellcome Collection, is including the new mobile health clinic in their major worldwide exhibition, Living With Buildings, which opens in London (autumn 2018). Over 100 featured exhibits will be exploring the role of design and urban planning in human health, looking at how the built environment reflects the needs of society, today, and on into the future.