Architecture

Shipping container-based ICU being developed for COVID-19 treatment

Shipping container-based ICU b...
The first CURA prototype is currently being constructed in Milan
The first CURA prototype is currently being constructed in Milan
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CURA is being made open-source and is a not for profit project
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CURA is being made open-source and is a not for profit project
CURA is based on standard shipping containers measuring 20 ft (6.1 m) long
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CURA is based on standard shipping containers measuring 20 ft (6.1 m) long
The CURA units will be joined onto larger inflatable structures
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The CURA units will be joined onto larger inflatable structures
The project envisions placing some CURA units next to a hospital, such as in parking lots, to expand ICU capacity, while others could be used to create field hospitals
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The project envisions placing some CURA units next to a hospital, such as in parking lots, to expand ICU capacity, while others could be used to create field hospitals

“Each unit works autonomously and can be shipped anywhere. Individual pods are connected by an inflatable structure to create multiple modular configurations (from 4 beds to over 40), which can be deployed in just a few hours," says Carlo Ratti Associati
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“Each unit works autonomously and can be shipped anywhere. Individual pods are connected by an inflatable structure to create multiple modular configurations (from 4 beds to over 40), which can be deployed in just a few hours," says Carlo Ratti Associati
The first CURA prototype is currently being constructed in Milan
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The first CURA prototype is currently being constructed in Milan
View gallery - 6 images

We’ve reported on shipping containers being used for lots of different projects before, such as swimming pools, bars, and houses, but Connected Units for Respiratory Ailment (CURA) is an example that could potentially save lives. It involves transforming the metal boxes into easily transportable intensive care units (ICU) that can be shipped worldwide to help those in need of treatment as COVID-19 continues to spread.

CURA is being developed by a team that includes Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota, Studio FM Milano, Humanitas Research Hospital, Jacobs, Squint/opera, and others. It's open-source and is built from standard 20 ft (6.1 m) long shipping containers that we’d assume are either new or very carefully and thoroughly cleaned. The containers are modified with windows and entrances and then joined onto a larger inflatable structure to create modular configurations in different sizes as needed, from four beds to over 40.

While doctors already have hospital tents at their disposal for these kind of emergency situations, the team reckons that CURA would (with the correct equipment installed) offer a benefit over tents by creating a negative room pressure system. Put simply, the negative room pressure means that air flows into the containers but not out, helping to mitigate the risk of further spreading the virus. The system is often used in traditional brick-and-mortar isolation wards.

CURA is being made open-source and is a not for profit project
CURA is being made open-source and is a not for profit project

The project envisions placing some units next to hospitals, such as in parking lots, for example, to expand ICU capacity, while others could be used to create field hospitals. It would also make use of shipping containers' easy transportation to move them around on trains, trucks and ships.

Of course, somewhere to put the patients is just a part of the battle and having the ventilators and other medical kit necessary, plus the specialists required to actually use them properly, is also crucial. That said, the first prototype CURA is currently being constructed for use in a hospital in Milan, with a view to eventually sending them out around the world.

Source: Carlo Ratti Associati

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3 comments
paul314
Some epidemiologists are saying that you don't want to pass everyone through existing hospitals, because those then become sources of infection. New Facilities where care is specialized for Covid-19 patients may be a big part of the answer. If we last that long.
Charles Wolf
There are a variety of issues. Transporting the modules (the military adds removable wheels) or moving modules around on site. Need a large forklift. Some way to level each unit and the entire structure. Jacks that tie into the corners? Then you need staff housing, supply storage units, toilet units, shower units, laundry units, garbage units, etc. Ideally treat all interior surfaces with Microban or copper (see UK Army hospital). Hands free doors, faucets, toilets, etc. Maybe separate roof units to minimize heat load. It isn't simple.
AJ827
There is also a company in Wichita Kansas that is fabricating emergency rooms out of Containers and shipping them over the world. Now shipping them for use with the Corona virus.