On 2 February 2020 China opened an emergency hospital set up specifically to tackle the novel coronavirus. The emergency specialty field hospital constructed from 23 January 2020 to 2 February 2020, taking only 10 days to construct.
The 645,000-square-foot makeshift medical facility, which took in its first patients only two days later, is made up of two floors and is equipped with 1,000 beds, several isolation wards, and 30 intensive care units. Pictures of the construction first emerged on January 23 on social media, showing dozens of bulldozers and excavators rushing to level the ground. In the days that followed, an online live stream was set up for people to follow the construction progress.
How was a hospital constructed in just 10 days?
Using prefabricated units is the key to constructing a building at such a fast speed. Instead of first building the foundation and then following up with the superstructure (ie. the steel frame, the building, and the cladding), prefabricated units allow the construction of the foundation and the building envelope to take place in parallel. The pre-fabricated elements are fabricated off-site in a factory at the same time the foundations are being prepared on-site.
The emergency-built Huoshenshan hospital was also modeled on the blueprints of a medical facility which was set up in Beijing in 2003 to help tackle the SARS epidemic, which also helped speed up the construction process. Chinese state media has also given a lot of credit to the more than 7,500 laborers, who worked around the clock to construct the hospital.
For Further Reading:
• “Huoshenshan Hospital”, article at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huoshenshan_Hospital
• “Coronavirus: The hospital built in a matter of days”, article at the BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-51280586
• “How to design a hospital that’s built in days, by someone who’s done it before”: https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/07/asia/wuhan-coronavirus-hospital-design-intl-hnk/index.html