Nicholas Tamarin | March 25, 2010
International architecture firm Anshen + Allen is showing its altruistic side by providing pro-bono design services for a portable health clinic prototype. The San Francisco-based outfit has teamed with nonprofit foundation Containers 2 Clinics and modular builder Stack Design Build to turn out-of-use shipping containers into preventive care units for poor and rural communities.
It's the brainchild of Containers 2 Clinics founder Elizabeth Sheehan, a Boston-area physician's assistant, who founded the organization after years of living in developing countries and witnessing the staggering lack of preventive care, and absence of basic medications like antibiotics.
The steel shipping containers, culled from an estimated 20 million castoffs worldwide, address four key challenges to mobile healthcare delivery: space, heat, hygiene and security. In addition to the ubiquity of used containers, they proved appealing to C2C because the low-cost forms can be easily replicated in large-scale configurations, due to their universal size of 8-by-20 feet. Including transport, equipment, medications, and salaries for a local doctor and staff of six, Sheehan estimates each unit will cost approximately $100,000.
Anshen + Allen and Stack Design Build's standard design includes two examination rooms, a diagnostic lab, pharmacy and break area for clinic staff. The self-contained units will be outfitted with heat-reflective paints, solar fans, and photovoltaic powered lights—even a false wall with an automatically locking door for security.
After the initial pilot stage, during which users will help the design team make final modifications, the clinics are expected to be rolled out on a broad scale, a process with a decided sense of urgency: the first prototype might be deployed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti within the next few months.
Images courtesy of Anshen + Allen.