Ebola Epidemic Spurs Students to Launch Global Design Competition for Medical Healing

Driven by suffering Ebola patients and caregivers, architecture and medical students at New York Institute of Technology have launched a global competition to generate design ideas for mobile healing environments in areas affected by epidemics. The students formed a nonprofit group, Habitat for Healing, to solicit ideas for what they are calling Mobile Architectures for Strategic Healing or the “MASH Pad” project. The competition is open to teams of professionals and students; each team must include a medical consultant.

Tina Barnett, co-chair of Habitat for Healing and a recent graduate of NYIT School of Architecture & Design, says the Ebola epidemic’s devastation led her to think about how professionals could work together to create solutions.

“We’re looking for it to be a place where a person can recover and not feel separated from family and friends,” Barnett says. “”A lot of times, people are in tents and their family can’t see them. It seems so counterproductive for the healing process. We thought that maybe it could be a little different.”

The three medical students involved in the project said they hope to improve access to and quality of care on a large scale.

“Our hope is that this project stimulates thinking and inspires interested parties to develop ideas that are not only innovative and appropriately designed, but also practical and translatable,” says Filippo Romanelli, a second-year medical student.

Initial concepts are due Jan. 19. A jury comprising designers, architects, and medical and health professionals will select finalists for a second submission in late March.

“What both our architecture and medical students share is a sense of mission and enthusiasm,” says College of Osteopathic Medicine dean Wolfgang Gilliar, DO. “They see the world as interconnected and not as much of one ‘track next to another’ but as a communications base on which they all can build a common good.”

The scale and immediacy of the epidemic spurred students to mobilize quickly, adds Frank Mruk, associate dean of NYIT School of Architecture & Design.

“Our architecture and medical students are working to activate doctors and architects around the world to respond with better solutions,” says Mruk. “It is their hope that this competition will establish a playbook of new typologies for temporary medical camp architecture, architecture that can be quickly and efficiently implemented, in or away from major population centers.”

Source: New York Institute of Technology