Italian Architects Designed Life-Saving Solution to House More COVID-19 Patients

Italian architects joined with an interdisciplinary team in to design intensive care units capable of working to the scale of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Brad Bergan

As of writing, Italy is the hardest-hit country by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last 24 hours, 712 people died from the disease, bringing the death toll to a total of 8,215. More than 3,000 people are in critical condition, and more arrive every day. Hospitals are overcrowded, and nurses are exhausted. Sadly, this is just the beginning.


Intensive care units to match the scale of the novel coronavirus

The growing need in Italy for increased intensive care unit capacity, governments, and capable organizations are seeking solutions to curb the spread of the virus.

Recently, a task force of international designers, engineers, medical professionals, and military experts joined forces to create CURA — an open-source project created to build Intensive Care Units with flexible capacity.

Squint Opera Pods
Pod-shaped containers easily shipped to coronavirus epicenters. Source: CURA / Squint Opera

They proposed CURA, an invention allowing the quick shipping of containers into portable intensive care pods.

The idea of turning shipping containers into intensive care pods capable of functioning as wards for COVID-19 patients is definitely interesting. Italian architects Carlo Ratti and Italo Rota designed the concept.

Squint Opera Intensive Care
Doctors assisting a COVID-19 patient inside converted shipping containers. Source: CURA / Squint Opera

Italian innovation to the coronavirus pandemic

The creators designed these 20-foot intermodal containers to be mounted post-haste as a hospital tent, but are also just as safe as an isolation ward via the biocontainment that comes from negative atmospheric pressure.

Squint Opera 1
One arrangement of deployed pods. Source: CURA / Squint Opera

The designers' pods are easy to move and can be deployed in mere hours. They can be used individually, or assembled into varying arrangements juxtaposed by an inflatable structure.

Squint Opera Biocontainment Unit
The interior of a CURA biocontainment unit. Source: CURA / Squint Opera

Every biocontainment unit may contain medical equipment and two patients. The first CURA in construction is underway in Milan, Italy, sponsored by UniCredit.

As the death toll rises for the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, every social role is being galvanized to fight the outbreak, and save as many lives as possible. CURA could help many in Italy and beyond do this.

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