Home » BIM and Safety » BIM cooperation to fight COVID 19: shipping containers for intensive care

BIM cooperation to fight COVID 19

BIM cooperation to fight COVID 19: shipping containers for intensive care

Here is a BIM model of a field hospital for intensive care modelled with containers, installation systems, furnishings and animated characters

In the past few years, BIM has been widely adopted across all phases of design and construction (from concept to demolition and disposal) becoming the centrepiece of the AEC industry. The benefits from adopting this process supported by innovative technology and tools are innumerable and it is evident how BIM allows the design process to be organized in a structured and disciplined manner by having a single model that contains all the useful information of an asset at each stage of its life cycle.

In this article we’ll be showcasing an inspiring project made through BIM software that has been used to model a field hospital for intensive care as a prototype facility to support COVID-19 patients.

The BibLus editorial staff in collaboration with some Edificius’ users has created the BIM model of the CURA Pods project for the treatment of respiratory diseases. The model was then uploaded to the usBIM.platfom and managed through a series of advanced features.

Finally, the BIM model has been uploaded to BIM VOYAGER, the tool that allows you to share projects online:

BIM and Covid-19

BIM cooperation to fight Covid-19 | Render produced with Edificius

The CURA project

In the recent weeks, as an increasing number of patients are experiencing severe respiratory syndromes, often requiring mechanical ventilators for breathing assistance, many hospitals in countries particularly affected by COVID-19 have estimated the risk of saturation of intensive care units.

The“CURA Pods” (Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments) project is an international open source initiative that proposes to transform shipping containers into compact intensive care units and to be fast installed in any city in response to emergency situations.

CURA is the result of the joint work of an international task force which includes, among others, the architects of Carlo Ratti Associati, Jacobs engineers, Istituto Clinico Humanitas (Medical Engineering), Policlinico di Milano (Medical Consulting), MIT Senseable City Lab (Research).

The CURA project is supported by the World Economic Forum (through the COVID-19 and Cities, Infrastructure and Urban Services platforms).

The field hospital BIM model

CURA system aims at improving the efficiency of existing solutions for field hospitals, producing a ready-to-use intensive care unit that is easily transportable and safe for medical personnel. The individual modular units are specially designed to support hospitals and communities that are struggling to treat an increasing number of patients with respiratory infections.

Thanks to Edificius, the ACCA software architectural BIM design solution, we could quickly model the basic module unit, complete with installation systems, furnishings and even animated characters that simulate a doctor-patient interaction and represent a dynamic scene setting.

BIM model of a field hospital

Equipment and animated characters close-up| Render created with Edificius

The basic modular configuration can be replicated according to specific needs, thus recreating a complete and self-sufficient organization.

The project consists of the following elements:

  • entrance with anteroom
  • unit with services for hospital staff (bathrooms, changing rooms, etc.))
  • environments for sanitization
  • patient entry
  • entry to the intensive care area
  • intensive care
  • staff rest area
  • horizontal connection areas made with inflatable elements.

All paths have been designed to avoid the direct contact between internal and external environments and to limit the possibility of contagion.

The technical installation systems modelling

The field hospital has been modelled with Edificius-MEP, the BIM software for 3D modelling of installation systems integrated with architectural design.

BIM model of a field hospital

Unit prototype arrangement| render created with Edificius

The container units that are part of the network structure are used as plug-in intensive care pods. From a technical installation perspective, each container is an independent module and therefore easily deployed anywhere. Each container is in fact equipped with:

  • an Air Handling Unit (AHU);
  • two cylinders for the distribution of medical gases
  • an electrical switchboard for power supply of medical equipment, electrical outlets and lamps;
  • a fire extinguisher.

The Air Handling Unit, hidden by a counter wall and positioned at the entrance’s opposite side, must ensure Unidirectional Airflow Cleanrooms with negative pressure flow, in order to avoid external particulate contamination.

BIM model of a field hospital

Render created with Edificius

In consideration of that and to ensure air exchange and bio-containment, the AHU must guarantee:

  • air exchange at lower pressure than atmospheric pressure;
  • a filtration system for air entering or leaving the container;
  • control of temperature and humidity;
  • control of heat loads due to the equipment.

The two cylinders, however, positioned in a cavedium built on the wall opposite the entrance, must ensure medical gases supply both to the mechanical respirators and to the supply outlets positioned on the bed head beam of each patient.

The Air Handling Unit and the cylinders are perfectly integrated with the container structure in order to reduce the overall dimensions, create less hindrance to the doctors’ work and ensure easy access for replacement or maintenance operations.

The BIM modeling of the systems was easily carried out with Edificius-MEP. After the type of installation systems to be built have been defined, the objects to be used (pipes, ducts, valves, equipment, grids, etc.) were chosen from the BIM Objects Library.

Pipes and ducts were easily positioned using automatic alignment and orientation functions and via intelligent connection functions. Thanks to the connection ports, each MEP object added to the installation network can be automatically modified both in terms of geometry (diameter, width, height, etc.) and shape (with the insertion of elbow tubes, pipe-bends, fittings, etc.) for their correct connection.

BIM model of a field hospital

Render created with Edificius

Thanks to the “Replicate Path” function, parallel paths could be quickly replicated, such as the connection of the medical gas pipes installed on the bed head, by setting a direction and an offset.

Other 3D architectural objects included in the technical installation modeling, such as cylinders, have been transformed into MEP objects and customized with intelligent connectors and other functional parameters.

In a very short time, we managed to obtain an executive BIM model, complete with all the information, technical data sheets and properties relating to the entire building’s life cycle. Clearly, we didn’t obtain a simple 3D model but a real data container, or digital twin of the physical asset, that is very useful for carrying out all the simulations to later apply to the real entity.

The BIM model potential and the collaboration platform to support the Covid-19 crisis response

The BIM model of the field hospital, compared to a simple three-dimensional model, combines all the asset characteristics (in terms of design, construction and asset management) and much more.

After the first modeling phase, the project can be managed with usBIM.platform, the BIM platform representing a real data sharing environment that also offers the possibility of using advanced services that allow you to:

  • have a dedicated cloud infrastructure
  • manage digital models online
  • monitor works thanks to IoT (Internet of Things) protocols and sensors
  • view the progress of activities in real time
  • take advantage of an advanced Building Intelligence system with functions for data collection and analysis, activities planning and organization
  • simulation with real time rendering and through immersive virtual reality tools, such as VR viewers.

The BIM methodology clearly gives a fundamental contribution to the design of hospitals and structures intended for any type of emergency, because it allows:

  • rapid construction times
  • model management shared by all the actors involved in the process
  • collaboration on the same project even remotely
  • management of the building’s life cycle (from design to demolition)
  • fast model editing with simultaneous update of the information associated with it.

The field hospital project example made us experience how BIM can improve the work of professionals even during emergency times, optimizing planning, streamlining exchange operations and above all, ensuring constant control over all the entire construction process.

Browse through the hospital model with BIM VOYAGER

We provide you with the possibility of navigating the BIM model that we’ve prepared: thanks to BIM VOYAGER (link) you can virtually explore the open-source design for the emergency COVID-19 hospitals. There is no need to download any application, you simply need a PC browser, tablet or even your smartphone.

BIM model of a field hospital

Navigating the field hospital model with BIM VOYAGER

Navigating the shared model on BIM VOYAGER is very simple:

  • with the “Orbit” command you move around the model;
  • with the “First person” command, you can walk through interior environments.

To better understand how to move within the model with the mouse, keyboard or with your smartphone, click on “Help” and find all the information you need case by case.

If you want to take advantage of BIM VOYAGER and share your projects with colleagues or client, click here and find out how simple it is.