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Aiming to Design Better Ebola Care

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

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Architecture and medical students from the New York Institute of Technology have issued a global life-or-death design challenge: ideas for mobile treatment facilities for Ebola patients.

The MASH (Mobile Architectures for Strategic Healing) Pad international competition was announced Dec. 15. The concept sketch phase deadline is Jan. 19.

Ebola outbreak
© / Leonie Pow

Contest participants are invited to submit design ideas for mobile Ebola treatment facilities.

The goal is to generate ideas for an “effective system that will serve as an environment of healing, protection for the general public in the event of a rapidly escalating epidemic or pandemic situation,” according to Habitat for Healing, a student-led nonprofit that is leading the effort.

The MASH competition is the group's first initiative.

The competition is open to "anyone—including, but not limited to, architecture, engineering and design firms and final-year architecture and students of these respected fields from all over the world, with a medical professional and a medical student as consultants," the site says.

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola has claimed 7,989 lives out of 20,381 cases in countries with widespread transmission—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the latest figures released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (WHO). The casualties include thousands of health-care workers.

“The majority of health facilities in these countries are either not functional or people are not using them for fear of contracting Ebola,” according to Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director-general of health systems and innovation, WHO.

WHO map
WHO Ebola Response Roadmap

Ebola has claimed 7,989 lives out of 20,381 cases in countries with widespread transmission—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

With each infected person infecting approximately two others, a global effort is afoot to rein in the contagion rate.

Three Questions

The competition asks entrants to weigh three questions:

  1. What could a new MASH Pad Unit in response to the Ebola outbreak look like?
  2. Where could these units be specifically located in your community?
  3. How can design help contain and control the spread of disease?

“We want designers to create a facility that could be used by doctors to treat patients effectively while providing a better quality of life for patients and doctors,” said Tina Barnett, the MASH competition founder.

Entries will be judged by a panel of architects, medical professionals and designers to be named later. Names of finalists will be announced on the competition's web page.

"The goal is to select multiple winners to use their designs as patterns for in Ebola-stricken environments," organizers say.

Inspired Design

Designs such as those recently developed by students at Texas A&M’s Master of Architecture program may provide inspiration for the contest.

Texas A & M
Texas A & M

Texas A&M Master of Architecture students (from left) Celso Rojas, Soheil Hamideh and Tian Wang work on a model of a portable clinic.

There, students created a series of portable, rapidly deployable treatment centers for Ebola patients. The models attend to military transport constraints, geographical and contagion factors, sanitation demands, energy needs and medical protocols.

For more discussion of these modules, see “Young Architects Design against Ebola.”


Tagged categories: Aesthetics; Architecture; Asia Pacific; Building design; Color + Design; Commercial Buildings; Contests; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Health and safety; Health Care/Hospitals; Latin America; North America

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