The epidemic situation ponders smart city planning and architectural design

Thinking of the epidemic situation to urban planning and architectural design

Throughout human history, every outbreak of a major epidemic will force urban design to explore and innovate. For example, in the 17th century, the pandemic of the Black Death in Europe drove the large-scale planning, design and construction of urban sewer systems, and enacted new zoning laws to prevent the concentration of personnel and increase the risk of infection. In addition to promoting the online economic development, this new coronavirus may also greatly affect the way we build cities and buildings in the future.

“As the cities and medical districts we are designing think about chronic diseases, there is also an interesting connection …” said David Green, the head of the design firm Perkins and Will. The company is committed to creating “health zones” to solve broader health problems, such as walking as an important way to reduce obesity and diabetes. “I think that in the next few months, especially next year, the new coronavirus epidemic will completely change the way we think about urban design.”

Part of this may mean building buildings that can be quickly switched to other uses in the event of an epidemic or other type of disaster. For example, in this epidemic, many countries and regions will quickly transform exhibition centers or stadiums into square cabin hospitals. However, at present, a large number of square cabin hospital renovations only use space, and there has not been too much pre-targeted design preparation, especially the relatively old public stadium buildings.

“We have been considering redesigning public places so that they can also be used as logistics and treatment areas for epidemic prevention in cities.” Perkins and Will are also studying how urban design affects the current epidemic. “We are evaluating the spread of this epidemic because it is related to the physical design of the city, which includes population density.”

Heat map for analysis of ventilation between urban buildings | Image: courtesy SOM

Heat map for analysis of ventilation between urban buildings | Image: courtesy SOM

Virus-free transition

Better architectural design can also help reduce the number of people prone to spread the virus. For example, the method of security check at the airport may be different, so that passengers will not be forced to wait together in a crowded crowd. Skidmore, Arathi Gowda, deputy director of high performance design at Owings & Merrill (SOM), said: “New and upgraded airports are being designed and need to increase security checkpoints and reduce various checkpoints during passenger boarding. At the same time, with automatic detection channels It reduces the waiting time of passengers, avoids congestion in queues and increases the risk of infection between people. “Therefore, non-contact screening at transportation hubs such as airports and high-speed rail stations will become increasingly popular.

Lionel Ohayon, founder and CEO of Icrave Design, a design company focused on airports and stadiums, suggested that the ultimate ideal state of future urban design should be that passengers complete the inspection when boarding the self-driving car to the airport, rather than arriving at the airport Before proceeding. Inside the airport, better design can help reduce the number of people waiting in line at the gate.

"Buildings will surely become mankind's secret weapon against infectious diseases."

Image: courtesy SOM

“Buildings will surely become mankind’s secret weapon against infectious diseases.”

Although it is difficult for people to avoid crowding after boarding the plane, the greatest risk of virus infection comes from passengers sitting next to them; if the airborne air is well filtered, the virus will not spread further. The level of air quality improvement is not limited to vehicles. Luke Leung, director of sustainable engineering at SOM, said: “We can do this in the public transportation system, but we haven’t done it yet.” We should also improve air quality in more buildings, especially in densely populated office buildings. “This is not only something we should consider, but also something we must consider, because we spend 90% of our time indoors in buildings. Buildings must become the secret weapon against infectious diseases in the future.”

The invention and application of new technologies make the cost of improving air quality lower and lower. For example, UV-C (Short Wave Ultraviolet) light can eliminate viruses in the air treatment system while allowing the equipment to last longer. Traditional air filters increase costs, partly because additional power is required to draw air into the filter core system.

At the same time, it is also important to introduce fresh air into buildings and improve ventilation outside dense communities. If fresh air keeps coming in, it will minimize the probability of indoor infections. Future technologies will be able to help us do more things, for example, sensors that can detect surface viruses in real time are coming, and can be used to prompt people in buildings or trigger air purification systems.

During the prevention and treatment of the new coronavirus outbreak, a large number of buildings began to deploy temperature screening systems to quickly identify people who might be sick. At present, many countries including China are using infrared or thermal imaging cameras to measure the temperature of people entering and leaving.

Although temperature detection cannot directly determine whether the virus is actually infected, these non-contact technology applications minimize the risk of cross-infection of personnel. It is precisely because of these powerful measures that the spread of the new crown virus has been effectively curbed. . Therefore, infrared thermal imaging technology should become one of the first lines of defense in all buildings, and its application range should exceed the medical environment.

Hospitals designed to respond to outbreaks

Of course, hospitals can also be better designed to deal with outbreaks of infectious diseases. From this new crown epidemic, we have seen that the infection probability of medical staff is very large, which also has a great relationship with our current medical building design. Therefore, we have to reconsider the design of building functions and systems in medical institutions.

The hospital at Rush University in Chicago has an emergency room, which can be operated in a closed manner when critical, allowing patients to be evaluated for safety. Inside, you can open negative pressure areas that limit the spread of viruses in multiple areas. And the hospital room can also be changed at any time. If you encounter some patients suddenly become very serious or find a suspicious unknown virus, you can immediately turn the [emergency] ward into an intensive care unit. So as to minimize the risk of cross infection between hospital staff and patients.

more than 1.7 million people are infected in hospitals

According to statistics, an average of more than 1.7 million people are infected in hospitals every year, and each time they go to the hospital there is a 5% risk of infection (HAIs). The number of deaths caused by it each year is more than that of prostate cancer and breast cancer combined. This shows the importance of architectural design of medical institutions.

The park helps the city breathe

From a larger perspective, keeping the city and buildings healthy will also greatly reduce the likelihood of people getting sick, and it is more likely to avoid the most serious consequences. For example, even in super high-rise buildings, it is very important to add more outdoor space to the design. According to the survey, many people lack vitamin D, and higher vitamin D is closely related to the reduced risk of acute respiratory infections. In addition to supplementing the corresponding food, sufficient outdoor activities and light conditions have a positive effect on vitamin D .

Similarly, planning to build a large number of green ecological spaces in cities can also encourage people to increase outdoor activity spaces. In addition to encouraging people to exercise, green parks in cities can also improve air quality and reduce air pollution. Today, severe air pollution in cities causes many health problems, such as asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes. According to the latest statistics on new coronary pneumonia cases, patients with these basic diseases have very high morbidity and mortality rates. Therefore, exercising more and breathing fresh air is very important for people’s health, which is why after the pandemic of the European Black Death in the 17th century, a large number of theme parks were built in urban planning, including Central Park in New York.

Moreover, in some emergency situations, the park also serves as an escape refuge. Therefore, urban development should not compress these necessary functions and ecological space.

Wash your hands everywhere

Some potential changes in the city may be relatively simple. For example, in Kigali, Rwanda, the city recently launched a temporary hand-washing station at a bus station and began to require passengers to wash their hands before boarding. Convenient hand washing stations can also be widely used in retail stores, banks and restaurants. Although public toilets and other facilities are gradually appearing in cities, simple hand-washing basin-type infrastructure also needs to increase penetration in key places such as public transportation hubs.

Many people may have this experience. When you walk in the city, in many cases, there is actually no public toilets where you can wash your hands or use, which forces people to take some risks and extremes that they may not want to take. Inconvenience.

Of course, these changes in infrastructure and user-friendly design cannot replace the needs of other changes in public health, such as responding and testing faster in the event of an outbreak. However, with changes in the environment, the risk of future epidemics is increasing, and as the population ages and the urban population continues to grow, urban design should also make some changes.

All in all, humans are often faced with this changing world, more often they are making judgments, always thinking about how the world will be. In fact, the changes in the world are often not as people think. The change always comes off guard. Therefore, we should treat the world more with multiple choice questions, make more plans and design in advance, and deal with it when things happen, and more importantly, avoid some risks that are within the predictable range of humans, such as disease Pandemic. Therefore, no matter for urban planning and construction or building design, this new crown epidemic has given us a good lesson, and it always needs a little reflection and change …

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.