An Italian Architecture Firm Is Developing a Modular Shipping Crate ICU

The units, which are equipped to handle two patients, can be added on to existing hospitals.

By Bryan Hood 02/04/2020

The coronavirus outbreak may be mutating wildly with each new day, but the situation in Italy remains dire. With more deaths attributed to the virus there than in any other country, the European nation’s health system desperately needs any help it can get. That’s why architecture firm Carlo Ratti Associati has designed an intensive care unit that can be easily packaged and sent to hospitals in need.

Designed by Ratti and fellow architect Italo Rotta, the modular ICUs would be stored within a repurposed shipping container, reports Dezeen. A first prototype is being built right now in Milan, and if it proves viable, it could help increase the country’s intensive care capacity.

Named the Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments (CURA) Pod, after the Latin word for cure, the ICUs are designed to be temporary structures with high levels of biocontainment that can be deployed quickly in times of crisis. Each 6-metre-long shipping container would have room for a unit and is equipped with a ventilation system that generates negative pressure to keep contaminated air from escaping. Each one is also designed to comply with Airborne Infection Isolation Room standards.

“The units could be as fast to mount as a hospital tent, but as safe as an isolation ward, thanks to biocontainment with negative pressure,” the design team told the website.

Italy remains the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe. As of Wednesday, 13,155 people had died in the country because of the pandemic, with the total number of confirmed infections reaching 69,176. Carlo Ratti Associati is not the only Italian company that has pitched in to help. Last week, Miuccia Prada and husband Patrizio Bertelli, the couple behind Prada, donated six ICUs to Milanese hospitals. A week before that, Giorgio Armani donated more than $2.4 million to the relief efforts, while Donatella Versace pledged $360,000 and Chiara Ferragni gave $180,000 to help raise a total of $7.25 million for relief efforts through GoFundMe.

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