Anant National University joins hands with Mumbai’s BMC to create plug-and-play Covid-19 recovery facilities
Dhaval Monani, director of Affordable Housing at Anant National University, and a visiting faculty at the School of Architecture and School of Planning at CEPT, offers his insights on the initiative he is leading
The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented in scale – health infrastructure that was stretched in the best of times is facing a challenge it is ill-equipped to handle. India has one of the lowest rates of government beds per 100 population in the world – just 0.55. The only way to fight COVID is to test and provide more beds to quarantine and treat carriers and patients.
Drastic times call for out-of-the-box thinking and solutions. Do we need full-fledged hospitals for all the patients? Do we, can we afford to set up expensive temporary hospital facilities for all the suspected cases?
What we need is:
• Facilities that can leverage existing infrastructure
• Alternatives that can address the problem, bring down cost and time
• Immediate implementation
Over the last few weeks, we came up with a framework on how existing hard infrastructure – empty halls, residential and commercial buildings – can be converted to be used as COVID recovery facilities for quarantine, to treat mild and moderate infections at a fraction of the cost. A detailed road map was submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for implementation. We also saw the need to develop alternatives to existing medical furniture that was costly and in short supply.
We needed designs and materials that would be easy to produce, assemble, transport and set up at a fraction of the cost as the volumes needed are very large. We identified laminated corrugated board as the ideal material which is:
• Environmentally-friendly and recyclable
• Can last up to 10 years
• Easy to procure
• Scalable and easy to transport
We collaborated with a local manufacturer in Rajkot and a design firm Avantgarde Design Studio to produce a quarantine/ hospital bed, side table and foldable divider. All three of these items cost between 8 to 15% of what conventional items would. The designs have kept the costs low as opposed to virtually all other corrugated alternatives in the market; our products are laminated so they can be spray disinfected and are not affected by cleaning.
We are collaborating with the BMC and local MLA Amin Patel to convert multiple locations across Mumbai into COVID recovery facilities. With our execution partner Habitat for Humanity India and support from the BMC, we can transfer to designated locations in less than a day.
Over the coming months, I foresee that we will need to double our efforts to develop more solutions and think unconventionally to counter the challenges this crisis has thrown up. Our work with the BMC has proved that, with the right support and intention from the government, it is possible to work around our constraints and limitations.