Posts tagged with "public health":

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Check out the speculative design concepts that have emerged from the coronavirus pandemic

While there are scant upsides to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, there has been a flurry of speculative solution-oriented design concepts that implore us to think a bit outside of the proverbial box and reconsider how we live, work, play, and interact with the built environment. When this is all behind us, things will likely never quite be the same. These speculative designs, as quixotic as some might seem, give us a glimpse into that altered future where public health and imaginative design are even more closely intertwined. Below are a few such design proposals to emerge in recent weeks from a range of international firms large and small. All of these concepts tackle unique topics and concerns: A more prudent use of public green space, contagion-safe produce shopping, the adaptive reuse of unorthodox spaces, and working where you live for the long-haul, to name a few. And while some might seem unconventional or outright implausible, these concepts all imagine a world where we are all safe, comfortable, healthy, productive, and able to get the help that we need.

Parc de la Distance, Studio Precht

Reminiscent of a particularly panic-inducing hedge maze, Parc de la Distance is more a pandemic-appropriate riff on a Japanese Zen garden, where park-goers would be able to enjoy a contemplative and orderly constitutional without worrying about hordes of fellow fresh air-seekers coming from every which way. Studio Precht, a small Austrian firm based in a secluded, mountainous area outside of Salzburg, elaborated on the concept, which is geared toward a vacant lot in Vienna but can be replicated on any unused patch of urban land:
“Although our ‘Park de la Distance’ encourages physical distance, the design is shaped by the human touch: a fingerprint. Like a fingerprint, parallel lanes guide visitors through the undulating landscape. Every lane has a gateway on the entrance and exit, which indicates if the path is occupied or free to stroll. The lanes are distanced 240cm [8 foot] from each other and have a 90cm [3 foot] wide hedge as a division. Along their path, people walk on reddish granite gravel. Although people are visually separated most of the time, they might hear footsteps on the pebbles from the neighbouring paths. Each individual journey is about 600m [1,968 foot] long. The height of the planters varies along this journey and gives different levels to the hedges throughout the park. Sometimes visitors are fully immersed by nature, other times they emerge over the hedge and can see across the garden. But at all times, they keep a safe physical distance to each other.”
Studio Precht envisions the concept as being a useful feature for green space-starved cities in the post-COVID era as it “offers something very unique for bustling urban areas: A brief time of solitude. A temporary seclusion from the public. A moment to think, to meditate or just to walk alone through nature.”

Hyperlocal Markets for Shutdown Realities, Shift Architecture Urbanism

Described by Rotterdam-based studio Shift Architecture Urbanism as a “self-initiated research-by-design project,” the aim of this concept is twofold: To keep fresh, nutritious, and locally grown food flowing into local produce markets while reducing the risk of spreading the virus among shoppers at said markets, which are frequently prone to overcrowding but are also often lower cost than supermarkets in many areas.
“Shift’s proposal is to keep the vital function of the fresh produce markets fully intact, even strengthening it, while at the same time minimizing its potential role in spreading the virus. For this, the large markets have to continue in a different form, place and time. Its former model of concentration has to be replaced by a model of dispersion, both in space and time. This is done by breaking down the large markets into so-called micro markets that are spread over the city and opening them up for a longer time. Instead of you going to the market, the market is coming to your neighborhood. These hyper-local markets are open at least 5 days a week instead of twice a week to further reduce the concentration of people. “The micro market’s standard spatial setup consists of a 16 square grid, aligned with three market stalls, each selling a different kind of fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products or meat. The grid is taped on the pavement and fenced off with standard crush barriers. It has one entrance and 2 exits. In order to maintain social distancing each cell can only hold one person. In order to permit movement, the grid can only hold a maximum of 6 people. These rules are made clear at the entrance of the micro market, that has a waiting line taped on the pavement. The stalls will offer packages instead of separate products, to limit the time customers spend in the grid.”
Shift added that current restrictions on open-air produce markets vary wildly in the Netherlands from location-to-location and region-to-region.

Airport Superhospital, Opposite Office

Everything from convention centers to soccer stadiums have been transformed into temporary medical hubs during the coronavirus pandemic. Benedikt Hartl of the Munich-based Opposite Office, the same firm that pitched transforming Buckingham Palace into a co-living complex, envisioned this form of emergency adaptive reuse as also being extended to incomplete airport terminals. Under construction since 2006 with a potential completion date of 2021, Hartl sees promise in the delay-plagued Berlin Brandenburg Airport—or other underserved and non-operational airports, really—during the crisis (although said crisis in Germany has now largely passed). Hartl’s concept involves populating the uncompleted airport’s vast floor space with round modular steel cabins that serve as self-contained treatment units for patients.

“Flying was no longer in vogue even before the outbreak of COVID-19 and now the avenge of shame has given way to a deadly risk of infection. We agree that we will certainly not need this new airport in the near future,” read a press release from Opposite Office. “An advantage would be that infected people would be completely isolated at the airport area and would not come into contact with other patients. The main building alone, with an area of ​​220,000m2 [2.4 million square feet], offers plenty of space for medical (emergency) care. The existing airport offers untapped potential.”

Container Ship Hospitals, Weston Williamson + Partners

While converting seafaring vessels into floating hospitals is far from something new, a concept from London-headquartered architecture firm Weston Williamson+ Partners proposes the specific repurposing of container ships to serve a similar purpose. Well, kind of. Ideally, the containers would be unloaded at different ports in hard-hit regions and then used as makeshift intensive care units on land. “The idea came to us because we work around the world and wanted to try to encourage a global response,” firm co-founder Chris Williamson told AN in an email of the scheme, which is somewhat similar to an initiative underway in India with modified rail cars. “Many countries do not have an exhibition centre waiting to be fitted out as a hospital as we have done in Manchester and London.” “The speed at which Excel in London and GMex in Manchester have been repurposed suggest that the idea is possible and the container module is ideal for an intensive care bed and equipment for the benefit of emerging economies,” Willamson elaborated. “We have ascertained from the shipping companies that there is an available capacity of around 1,000 ships with around 3,500 containers per vessel.” Williams goes on to make clear that “patients would not stay on the ship except in circumstances where there is no place to deploy the containers” and that the container-based care units would have one of the steel doors removed and a transparent Perspex door installed in its place. The modules would also include built-in air conditioning units. “All we need is the political will to make this work and we are working with a few influential people to that aim,” Williamson said. It should be noted that, as with many shipping container-based projects, the feedback online hasn't been entirely positive.

Mobile PPS (Personal Protective Space), Plastique Fantastique

Plastique Fantastique, a Berlin-founded art collective known for eye-popping inflated installations, has created a PPS (personal protective space) for healthcare workers that can be swiftly deployed to a wide array of environments. As Plastique Fantastique explained, this “pneumatic space where doctors can treat patients in transparent protective space. It has constant overpressure, which means, the air flows only toward [the] outside of the space, not letting the virus coming inside. The clean air supply is guaranteed by a ventilator located outside or in an extra decontaminated space.” The bubbly blow-up Care Units, made from transparent polyurethane, can be attached to each to form larger contiguous spaces, and are accessed through special airlock chambers that maintain air pressure and provides medical workers with a space to prepare and disinfect before entering.

AD-APT, Woods Bagot 

With offices shuttered across the globe and workforces now operating in domestic trappings without any clear end in sight, global architecture firm Woods Bagot has envisioned a super-versatile living modular system dubbed AD-APT that “supports a range of activities throughout people’s days” while more easily accommodating “spaces for exercise, entertainment, digital collaboration, connection, and focus (without becoming isolated), alongside the traditional activities of eating, sleeping, and washing.” “While this trend has been on the rise over recent years the immediate, en masse shift to WFH exposes the benefits (and challenges) to a far wider range of the population than ever before,” explained the firm. “This will lead to significant change in people’s work habits and expectations. As more people become comfortable with working remotely, they will expect to be able to do so more often. This will change the way we design and use our workplaces, schools, and homes.” In response to this quickly changing dynamic, AD-APT enables WFH-ers to modify open-plan apartments to suit their needs whether they're in a so-called “split-shift” residence where working parents tag-team childcare responsibilities and job-related tasks or a “double desk” living environment where roommates rotate to different work-friendly spaces throughout the day. “Creating a spine of the fixed needs of a home (bathroom, entry, storage etc.) allows us to create an open and flexible apartment that can adapt to varying needs across modes, ” elaborated Woods Bagot. “The AD-APT includes a range of consistent elements which support the mode switching of the main spaces. AD-APT includes an entry porch which provides both an opportunity to meet and stay in touch with your neighbours and additional storage for bikes, coats and shoes. Beyond the entry porch the spine includes a bathroom and two flexi-booths. Around the entire apartment extensive storage is provided to allow for filing/appliance and other materials needed to blend living, working, and learning.”
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Washington state converts motel into coronavirus quarantine

While several countries around the world are developing national strategies to lessen the outbreak of COVID-19, otherwise known as a type of coronavirus, the United States has not yet developed a unified course of action. Washington state has been one of the most affected since the virus spread to America, leaving officials to devise short term, cost-effective solutions using preexisting resources. Health officials in King County, the most populous county in Washington, saw potential in converting a motel up for sale into a public health quarantine facility. The Econo Lodge in Kent, a city 20 miles south of Seattle, was purchased for $4 million to house up to 80 patients. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the former motel is set to be operational within the next week. The community leaders in Kent, however, have expressed their concerns about the sudden reuse of the motel as a quarantine facility without proper notification. “We have invested millions of dollars into the infrastructure around this location,” Kent Mayor Dana Ralph told the Los Angeles Times, “and now visitors and residents will be greeted by a public health quarantine facility.” The motel’s location across from Washington State Route 167, the main thoroughfare between Seattle and Kent, makes its presence in the city especially apparent. It has also been pointed out that while more cases were documented in nearby Kirkland, a wealthier city with a median income of $107,000, the lower-income city of Kent was chosen as a quarantine facility site given the relatively low property cost. “So we’re taking patients currently being exposed in the wealthier communities on the east side,” said Ralph, “and putting them down in the middle of our city. An affluent community honestly would have more resources to handle a potential disruption like this.” King County’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is a potential case study for how other regions across the United States might treat the virus in the coming months, suggesting a potential overlap between the country’s economic disparity and proposed solutions for public health crisis prevention. A “drive-through” method of early testing, on the other hand, is available to employees of the University of Washington’s UW Medicine department. According to NPR, a hospital garage lot has been quickly turned into a clinic by installing three well-ventilated medical tents, in which patients can be tested every five minutes. While this is currently limited to health care workers in the university’s health care system, it provides a model for larger-scale methods other sites across America can potentially adopt.

The University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning presents Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium: "Institutionalizing Equity: Radically Restructuring Opportunity in Detroit"

“And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  Planning Meeting for the Poor People’s Conference Boldly responding to Dr. King’s call for systemic change, a network of public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders in Detroit is seeking to radically restructure pathways to opportunity in the city’s neighborhoods. Through a first-of-its-kind initiative, a collective of the Kresge Foundation, the Detroit Public Schools Community District, and the University of Michigan will establish a “Cradle-to-Career” campus at Marygrove College on Detroit's Northwest Side. The campus will integrate pre-kindergarten through graduate level programs in an effort to establish a pedagogy of rigor, equity, and social justice at the intersection of public education and neighborhood revitalization in Detroit. As Detroit’s resurgence pushes beyond the boundaries of greater Downtown, a daunting question remains: what about the schools? In conjunction with concentrated public and private investments in the city’s Fitzgerald neighborhood, the Cradle-to-Career initiative signifies the importance of comprehensive community development that acknowledges the place-based nature of residential segregation and systemic disinvestment. With the Kresge Foundation’s $50 million commitment—the largest investment in any single neighborhood in the nation— this partnership seeks to transform access to upward mobility, emphasizing the importance of beginning with Detroit’s youth in an effort to institutionalize equity from the ground up. Opening Remarks: Jonathan Massey, Dean of Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning Michelle Bolofer, Executive Director at Century Forward Michelle Bolofer is a native Detroiter and former educator who grew up just north of the city's Fitzgerald neighborhood. She began her career in education, teaching high school on the south side of Chicago and then returning to the Metro Detroit area as a learning specialist and diversity and inclusion advocate. Prior to starting at Century Forward, Michelle worked as a consultant for a financial and business advisory firm. At Century Forward, Michelle is dedicated to working with a wide range of stakeholders to strengthen the existing environmental, economic and social infrastructure in the community. Michelle holds bachelor's degrees in English and Psychology from the University of Michigan and a a master’s degree in mathematics from Wayne State University. Ja’Net Defell, Lead Developer at IFF Ms. Defell is Lead Developer for IFF’s Michigan office. Reporting directly to the President of IFF’s Social Impact Accelerator group, Ms. Defell is responsible for managing all major IFF-driven real estate development initiatives in the Michigan market. Prior to her current role, Ms. Defell launched IFF’s real estate services group in Michigan and was a Senior Project Manager in IFF’s Chicago office. As Director of Real Estate Services, she managed a team of real estate professionals providing comprehensive consulting and development services to nonprofits in the Detroit metro area. Ms. Defell also managed several foundation-funded initiatives related to quality early childhood education (ECE) facilities and schools in Detroit. Specifically, Ms. Defell actively engaged in the development of the city-wide ECE initiative Hope Starts Here, a 10-year framework to reshape the ECE landscape in Detroit. Ms. Defell holds a Master of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the University of Michigan.  She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and LEED Green Associate. Elizabeth Moje, Dean, George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Education, and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture, University of Michigan School of Education Elizabeth Birr Moje is dean, George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Education, and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture in the School of Education. Moje teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in secondary and adolescent literacy, cultural theory, and research methods and was awarded the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize with colleague, Bob Bain, in 2010. A former high school history and biology teacher, Moje’s research examines young people’s navigations of culture, identity, and literacy learning in and out of school in Detroit, Michigan. Moje has published 5 books and numerous articles, and her research projects have been or are currently funded by the National Institutes of Health/NICHD, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, National Science Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, Spencer Foundation, International Reading Association, and the National Academy of Education. Together with several partners, including the Detroit Public Schools Community District and the Kresge Foundation, Moje just announced the School of Education’s participation in the development of a cradle-to-career education system in the Live6 neighborhood of Detroit, on the Marygrove College campus. Denise Powell, Assistant Professor, Marygrove College Dr. Powell is the Assistant Professor of  Early Childhood Education at Marygrove College, and has over 40 years of experience in public education. She has taught several courses, including "Professional Partnerships in Early Childhood Education - Child, Family, School, and Community" and "Designing and Managing Effective Learning Environments" that address the impact of community context on children's early learning and lifetime success. Dr. Powell holds a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary and Special Education from Michigan State University, a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Marygrove College, and a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education from Oakland University. She also holds State of Michigan endorsements in the areas of Learning Disabilities and Early Childhood Special Education. She has presented at local, state, and national conferences. Moderator: Harley Etienne, Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Taubman College and author of Pushing Back the Gates: Neighborhood Perspectives on University-Driven Revitalization in West Philadelphia.  Sponsored by the U-M Office of Academic and Multicultural Initiatives
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London exhibition explores the impact of design on public health

An ambitious exhibition at London's Wellcome Collection highlights the long and complex relationship between design and public health. Titled Living with Buildings, the show explores more than 150 years of thinking about how the built environment impacts social well-being. Ranging across eras and topics from Garden City idealism and 1930s modernist hospitals and health centers to 1960s high-rise housing projects, this beautiful and thought-provoking exhibition reveals how design in the built environment has the potential to be a powerful agent of change, both of healing and of harm. The broad overview is illustrated by a wealth of period artifacts, artworks, and historical documents, beginning with Charles Booth's powerful cartographic depictions of London's Victorian-era slums, which first identified the connections between poverty, illness, and poor-quality housing. Other highlights include original architectural drawings by Erno Goldfinger, Berthold Lubetkin, Le Corbusier, and Alvar Aalto, all of whom designed pioneering public housing and health centers during the 1930s. Architectural sketches, renderings, and pieces of custom-designed furniture are displayed alongside photographs and video essays by artists including Rachel Whiteread, Andreas Gursky, and Martha Rosler that document the challenges of preserving and maintaining egalitarian social services in the face of declining public and governmental support. A last section of Living With Buildings is dedicated to high-profile, health-conscious contemporary architecture, showcasing the healing environments of Maggie's Centres cancer support charity, and a portable hospital intended for use in disaster relief situations, designed and engineered by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Buro Happold. The free Living with Buildings exhibition will be up until March 3, 2019, at the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road in central London. More information is available here.
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Opioids hitting construction workers hardest says new study

A new report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) revealed that nearly a quarter of opioid-related deaths over a four year period occurred among people in construction-related jobs. The Boston Globe noted that the pain and pressure associated with such highly-physical roles is an “overlooked hazard” of the job. The study looked at information from Massachusetts death certificates from 2011 to 2015 to figure out how many opioid overdoses resulted in death across various industries and occupations. Construction and extraction workers accounted for over 24 percent of all opioid-related deaths among the state’s working population. Both professions had an equally high rate with 150.6 deaths per 100,000 workers and 1,096 fatal opioid overdoses out of 4,302 total deaths (with usable occupational information) in the state. Opioid overdoses occurring within the fields of agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting had the second highest rates of deaths while transportation, material moving occupations, maintenance and repair jobs, as well as service-related positions also reported significant fatality rates. The report infers that such deaths are higher among workers with jobs where the risk of a work-related injury or illness is high, and employees are often turning to prescription drugs to manage acute and chronic pain. Additionally, it stated that the fatality rate is higher in jobs that have less paid sick leave and substantially less job security. Men were also reported to suffer higher death rates from opioid misuse as opposed to women. The DPH said that further in-depth research needs to be done in order to clarify whether these complex factors as directly contributing to the opioid epidemic in the state of Massachusetts. According to the report, the state is committed to taking serious steps to address the issue by enacting education and policy interventions on overdose prevention and by improving workers' compensation systems. The DPH reported in May that opioid-related overdose deaths declined by an estimated five percent for the first three months of this year when compared to the first three months of 2017.  
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"Breaking New Ground" Competition Tackles Affordable Housing in the Coachella Valley

Architectural competitions with substantial cash prizes tend to focus on monuments, museums, and other high-brow concerns. Such is not the case for Breaking New Ground: Designing Affordable Housing for the Coachella Valley Workforce. Sponsored by The California Endowment, a Los Angeles–based private health organization, Breaking New Ground targets the gap between the people who come to the Eastern Coachella Valley to play and those who keep its $4 billion agriculture and tourism industries running. Home to resort communities including Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Rancho Mirage, the Eastern Coachella Valley lacks affordable housing for the permanent and seasonal workers who harvest its crops and staff the local service industry. With annual salaries of just $15,000–$30,000, workers and their families are forced to live on the streets, in cars, or in one of more than 100 unpermitted mobile home parks, without access to adequate heat, hot water, sanitation, or ventilation. Breaking New Ground will offer a total of $350,000 in unrestricted awards, including prizes for four finalists in each of the Open and Student categories. The jury will evaluate submissions based not just on physical design, but also on their economic, social, and regulatory aspects, such as: market feasibility, the provision of integrated social services, and proposed policy changes. The competition will be based on an existing 9.4-acre vacant site, selected by the County of Riverside for competition purposes only. Though Breaking New Ground is a design and ideas competition, “The California Endowment does intend to fund a project inspired by the competition entries,” said Colin Drukker of PlaceWorks, the competition’s lead project coordinator. “Winning entries will not be guaranteed a chance to participate in a potential construction project, but they will obviously have an advantage in any subsequent RFP.” The competition begins October 21, with online registration open sooner. The first round will conclude December 19, at which point the jury will select four winners from the Student category as well as four finalists from the Open Category. The second round, to begin January 22, will conclude with live presentations and a celebration March 30–31. (All dates are subject to change until registration opens.)
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Chicago Mulls Zoning Changes To Ward Off Mountains of Petcoke

Piles of dusty, black waste from coal and petroleum processing have been piling up on Chicago’s southeast side, angering residents and prompting Mayor Rahm Emanuel to weigh in on the contentious environmental issue. The Sun-Times has reported that Emanuel will introduce an ordinance at next month’s City Council meeting banning new storage facilities for so-called petcoke—a byproduct of the oil refinery process that can be sold overseas. It’s a step back from an outright ban proposed in December by Alderman Edward Burke, whose constituents were outraged by black dust clouds wafting from uncovered piles of petcoke along the Calumet River. Southeast side communities like Calumet, South Chicago, and South Deering are no strangers to industrial zoning. The Illinois-Indiana border has long been a pastiche of brownfields, residential communities, natural areas, and heavy industry. But the swirling black dust incited a class-action lawsuit filed against three storage sites last year. Chicago’s Department of Public Health shares area residents’ concerns. “We know that petcoke is a respiratory irritant and the main concern is if the petcoke is inhaled,” Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Bechara Choucair told the Sun-Times. “If you have somebody with asthma or other respiratory problems, inhaling petcoke would really lead to more problems…We are advancing this ordinance to protect our residents.” The anticipated zoning ordinance would prevent new petcoke storage facilities from entering the city, and would keep current outfits from expanding. KCBX, the largest such facility in the area, says the ordinance is unjustified, a sentiment shared by some business groups:
Mark Denzler, vice president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association called the ordinance “a solution in search of a problem.” … The Illinois Chamber of Commerce is also questioning the ordinance, calling it an “overreaction.” “We don’t understand what the mayor is trying to accomplish here. Petcoke and coal have been handled and stored in Chicago for decades with few issues. This seems like an overreaction to one incident – good policy rarely comes from overreacting,” Doug Whitley, Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO said.
KCBX is an affiliate of Koch Industries, the business empire of brothers Charles and David H. Koch. Their company, Koch Carbon, came under fire last year for storing the same material along the Detroit River.