'Mobile' health clinic goes on display at exhibition

A mobile health clinic that can be transported around the world and used in extreme climates is being displayed at a major exhibition from today.

A full-size version of the clinic, which was developed for the charity Doctors of the World (DotW) by architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) and engineering firms ChapmanBDSP and BuroHappold, is on view at the Wellcome Collection’s major autumn exhibition, Living with Buildings.

DotW provides medical care in some of the world's poorest countries and RSHP was chosen to create the clinic in response to the urgent need for effective, adaptable healthcare in emergency situations and remote locations. The clinic, which is made from plywood and constructed by a CNC (computer numerical control) machine, which is both adaptable and strong.

The design was chosen from an 'open-call' to realise a full-scale architectural project within Wellcome Collection’s first floor gallery. It is being presented alongside prototypes, as well as concepts and background research relating to its design and development.

The clinic’s design includes a sanitised environment where minor medical treatments could be given along with possibility of patient consultations. The structure is also designed to be transported to remote locations or produced locally, and easily erected and dismantled.

For ChapmanBDSP, Shashank Jain worked on environmental solutions for the project, while director Adrian James provided expertise on dealing with 'off-grid' projects to make the clinic adaptable to extreme environments. Shashank said: ‘One of the interesting things about the clinic design is its adaptability, depending on climate and available infrastructure – much like how we might dress differently in different parts of the world, both culturally and climactically. It will be so exciting to see it adapted for use, first within an exhibition and then in the field where it is needed.’

Ellen Waters, director of development at DotW UK, said: 'Providing healthcare in emergency situations and refugee camps has often relied on tents or temporary structures, which don’t work in different climates and fail to offer patient privacy.

'Refugees fleeing their homes, and survivors of natural disasters will have often suffered severe loss, separation, physical pain and witnessed unimaginable suffering. We love this innovative Global Clinic, which can be quickly deployed anywhere to provide the safe, sanitary and private space in which our doctors can discuss health concerns and, most importantly, give psycho-social support for mental health, exacerbated by the trauma they have experienced.'

Jon Shanks, associate, BuroHappold said: ‘This is an amazing project. We are working hand-in-hand with Doctors of the World to develop a high performing, low cost, simple to erect shelter which can be sent around the world city-to-city by email.’

Ivan Harbour, senior partner at RSHP, added: ‘Architecture has the ability and the responsibility to improve people’s lives and nowhere is this more important than in a building dedicated to making people well. Our aim has been to create a clinic that is adaptable to many environments, simple and economic to build, focused on patient care and welcoming and accessible by all patients.’

The Living with Buildings opens at Wellcome Collection in London runs until March 2019.

Photo: Concept sketch for the mobile clinic

'Mobile' health clinic goes on display at exhibition