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A group of architects are building quarantine facilities with a combined 1,000-bed capacity

By Angela Casco

Not all men on a mission are astronauts. Sometimes, they’re architects and builders.

As the number of local coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases continues to rise rapidly, a group of architects, engineers, and builders are racing against time to create more spaces that can accommodate patients that will decongest packed hospitals and, with hope, help flatten the curve.

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That’s exactly what William Ti, principal architect at WTA Design + Architecture, and fellow volunteers are doing by designing and putting up makeshift quarantine facilities near hospitals across Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The goal? Build 62 pandemic-ready tents with a combined bed capacity of 1,000.

How it started

Setting such a target number was not the priority for Ti and the team—at least early into the planning and building stage of the initiative. The focus was to address the overflow of Covid-19-positive patients.

While conversing with Dr. Glenn Angeles and other friends about the novel coronavirus, why it was spreading quickly, the fate of sick people being turned away from hospitals operating at maximum capacity, and how that poses danger to any person’s immediate family, he remembered the pavilion his studio designed and built at a design festival in Intramuros.

Called No Virgins, the structure was made using fully recyclable materials. The design’s simplicity, immediate availability, buildability, and scalability made it an ideal option for a makeshift Covid-19 containment and treatment facility.

“[I] saw its potential as a quarantine facility, to serve the same purpose as a Covid-19 response center,” Ti previously told Manila Bulletin Lifestyle.

One discussion with a hospital eventually led to more, which only proved the need for additional facilities that can increase the capacity of established medical centers. That was when Ti and the team knew they should build as many as possible.

“We want to redefine what builders can do,” the group wrote in a post on their official Facebook page. “We’re looking to build a thousand beds not just for this country but for the people in our communities.”

The volunteers envisioned a quarantine facility that functions as a holding area for Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) or asymptomatic positive cases, or simply put, “people who were not supposed to be sent home to stay with families or friends.”

“This is a housing facility for 15-30 people where they stay for 15-21 days depending on medical advice,” Ti said. “It is meant to contain and avoid further spread of the virus like a decontamination tent, only on a bigger scale and it does more than just sanitizing.”

Each requiring an estimated cost of P250,000, 15 workers, and a site engineer to build within two to five days, the facility’s original design was modified to feature what a quarantine area should have: separate entries for healthcare workers and patients, an excluded testing area, a decontamination and sanitation area, 15-30 beds separated by partitions, two toilets with its own septic tank for treatment, a structure frame built using wood, and a plastic skin or envelope.

“It’s well-lit and well-ventilated, with airflow going in one direction from front to rear,” Ti said. “The height and depth of the pavilion, meanwhile, allows it to dissipate heat quicker and makes it less stifling, especially with the transparencies that serve as windows letting in daylight.”

A work in progress

The group completed the first makeshift quarantine facility at Manila Naval Hospital in Taguig on April 1 in less than a week, a process that included material gathering and pooling of more volunteers.

“Speed, speed, speed,” was another key idea for the facility. Ti emphasized speedy construction early on, as time is of essence during a pandemic.

“We cannot turn into idle minds that succumb to paralysis by analysis and watch as the virus slowly eat away at our communities,” he said. “This is an unprecedented emergency. We are counting days. We cannot wait for delivery, shipments, or bureaucracy. It has to be done now. That is the only way we can conquer this virus.”

True enough, in less than a month, the team has been able to build 42 facilities in key areas. That’s a total of 662 beds ready to accommodate patients. The remaining 20 quarantine facilities are under construction.

While more than half was already done, the team said it would appreciate any form of assistance from donors because “in the end, that is what we are all here for—to help support one another and come together as a community.”

“Through any amount, we can help save lives and bring families together again,” the group wrote in a separate Facebook post. “Let us show the world that in our darkest hours, #WeBuildAsOne.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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