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Jo’burg stadium proposed as coronavirus hospital

A group of architects has teamed up to show how the iconic Johannesburg soccer stadium, FNB Soccer City, could be put to work in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Boogertman + Partners, in association with Geyser Hahn have joined forces to map out a proposal to turn the iconic Johannesburg FNB Soccer City Stadium into a 1,500 bed Temporary Severe Acute Respiratory Infections Treatment Centre.

The group, which is working in partnership with Blue IQ Infrastructure Consultants, hopes the design will not need to be put into practice.

On March 28, two days after the nationwide lockdown began, a dedicated team of professionals including architects, hospital design specialists, interior and urban designers responded to a 72 hour turnaround brief to turn the stadium into a field hospital.

However, a stadium designed for large volumes of segregated audiences to move swiftly within defined areas (players, spectators, media, VIPS, vendors) lends itself very well to creating space for patients, medical staff and suppliers to move through a treatment system, while keeping the distancing needed to minimise the risk of increased infection. From basement level to the upper suite levels, each tier of the stadium was assigned a role in the flow of treatment from testing and patient assessment to high care in ICU units.

Thanks to the skill set within the group and the partnerships forged over years of project delivery, the design and logistics proposal for Soccer City and an alternate site, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria were ready for presentation, March 31.

Jean Groblerdirector, Boogertman + Partners, highlights that the combination of the Soccer City original design teams’ knowledge of the stadium through Bob van Bebber, the Geyser Hahn health design specialist, Henry du Pleassis’ understanding of the challenges and the inputs from the Boogertman + Partners range of design skills partnered with engineers, quantity surveyors and safety specialists was an incredible collaboration. He said:

While I hope we never have to build our design which we believe is excellent solution form initial low risk cases through to full ICU facilites, the spirit of collective problem solving and goodwill was incredible. It made us proud of our profession.

The team worked in lockdown and used Zoom for design collaborations.

While responding with urgency to prepare for the situation that would emerge with a fast infection rate which would overwhelm the existing Gauteng health infrastructure, they took care to work with international and local best practice guidelines.

From the World Health Organisation to the requirements of National and Provincial Departments of Health and consulting with peers in the UK preparing similar facilities, the team gathered insight and learnings while prototyping solutions.

The final proposal is a holistic solution that included adjusting a NHS patient flow process from admission to treatment and escalation to ICU wards if needed, right through to mortuaries and provisions for the safety, protection and rest areas for medical staff. Provision of facilities for patients was divided into three categories of risk with the appropriate shielding and cubicles used for those at the highest need of care and intubation with beds and less intensive medical facilities provided for patients who needed to be monitored to assess their level of response to the COVD19 infection.

The final scheme in the field hospital proposal accommodates a minimum 1,500 beds.

It is engineered for the best safety possible while accommodating the high volume of patients, medical specialists, support staff and vendors of up to over 4,500 people daily if the facility runs at full capacity.