Competition in collaboration with Nicola Jackson from Subtil Design
Competition Website
Facebook link to shortlisted entry

"To design a small relocatable healthcare facility that promotes health and well-being in a safe and clean environment. The design should respond to the tropical environment in some of the poorest nations to provide a sustainable solution, keeping capital and maintenance costs low to increase the potential of multiple projects being realised."

An adaptable, re-buildable, modular system based on the design of ‘Meccano’ building components capable of being constructed by all members of the community.

Externally clad in local materials, the visiting healthcare professionals can quickly line the internal treatment zone with biodegradable plastic sheeting, providing a hygienic working environment. The Aluminium frame is very weather resistant and between uses, which may be days or months, the frame can be re-purposed with other materials until the doctor’s next visit.

The collaborative act of building their own facility itself offers a cathartic process and demystifies modern healthcare provision to people who may not have had access to it before.

The concept behind the proposal reflects our understanding of the type of health care service it would support in rural and remote locations. The ‘Meccano’ like pieces can easily be assembled by local people and reconfigured to suit different locations and medical facility requirements. The modules are further customised with locally available building materials so the structure can respond to its environment while biodegradable plastic sheeting carried by the doctors ensures a hygienic treatment room.

A centralised healthcare provider would manufacture and ship the inexpensive aluminium building frame to rural locations. Each section is designed to be easily transported by only two people with around 10 sections required to make a 5m enclosure. Pallets, each shipping a building length of 13 meters (see figures below) can be transported by truck, boat or raft and lifted manually. Additional components can be ‘plugged in’ to the aluminium frame including PV panels, rain water collection, integrated seating and safe storage, which could be purchased as and when it is required or funds become available.

1 Bar + Fixings = 0.17 kg h) 0.45m w) 0.002m d) 0.035m
Bars / Cube = 12 no. h) 0.45m w) 0.45m d) 0.45m
Cubes / Section = 17 no. h) 3.10m w) 2.60m d) 0.45m
Bars / Section = 204 no.
Section Weight = 35 kg Section liftable by 2 people
Pallet weight limit = 1000 kg
Max bars / Pallet = 5900 no.
Sections / Pallet = 29 no.
Building Length / Pallet = 13 meters

The aluminium sections are bolted together by the local people to form 450mm cubes and corner modules, which are highly adaptable in terms of the spaces they can form and their ability to plug in other components if required. The modules can bolt together to structurally form sheltered spaces, enclosed areas, partitions, storage areas or seating. Elements can be plugged in and fixed to the frame including solar panels and rain water collection units. Interchangeable display panels can also be fixed to the frame to inform local people about healthcare. The holes in the aluminium sections allow a variety of locally available cladding materials to bolted or lashed to the frame.

The flat, lightweight, aluminium angles are tightened by hand using wing nuts without the need for tools, to form structural metal cubes. Local communities can collectively construct these cubes, with all ages being able to be involved. The ‘Meccano’ like pieces are standardised and very simple to construct. Once the basic frame is established, it could then be clad in locally available materials allowing it to respond to the specific environmental and social contexts. Through using local materials, the demountable yet durable structure is ‘personalised’ to each community and it’s climate becoming a collaborative endeavour serving to demystify and familiarise communities with modern health care to which they may not have had access to before.

Between visits, which may only be sporadically possible in the most remote areas, the frame could sit unclad so that adverse weather would have no affect on it. When the medical professionals arrive it would be a simple matter of a few villagers cladding the exterior and the visiting team bringing a roll of biodegradable plastic sheeting. The interior could be easily lined creating and quick and clean environment in which safely to carry out treatment and minor surgery.

The aluminium is durable and weather resistant and would require little maintenance.

Communities that are close to urban hubs, can use the modular build to affordably and quickly expand their existing facilities to the required size. Additional modules and plug in components can be distributed over time as needs change.