All over the world, healthcare workers are living in temporary rentals, motels, and even RVs to avoid bringing the novel coronavirus home to their families. These spaces allow frontline employees to self-isolate, but they can be expensive to rent, and they aren’t always located conveniently close to work.

Tiny temporary housing pavilions for healthcare workers designed by Mexico City-based firm REVOLUTION.

Architect Andrés Bustamante Arrieta of Mexico City firm REVOLUTION has an idea to address this problem, and he’s making his solution open-source so others can easily reproduce it. The Temporary Pavilion for Healthcare Workers (TPHW) is a profit-free “emergency architecture” project consisting of temporary wooden pavilions made from 12 modular sections.

These micro-dwellings each have a footprint of just seven square meters (about 75 square feet) but contain a bedroom, wardrobe, shower, sink, toilet, electric heater, cistern, natural ventilation, and poly-aluminum thermal insulation. They’re made to be quickly assembled, disassembled, and stored until they’re needed again for another crisis.

Diagram breaks down the modules within a single pavilion.

Since their bases are so small, these modular emergency shelters can be deployed in parking lots, grassy areas outside hospitals, and any other spaces that might be available. As many hospitals dealing with an influx of COVID-19 cases have canceled elective procedures for the foreseeable future, there’s often plenty of parking spaces available to host multiple pavilions.

The prefabricated modular sections consist of wood and biodegradable plastic and already contain all of the elements needed to be put to immediate use, including a chlorinated water tank and a solar thermal panel on the roof to heat the water.

3D rendering of one of REVOLUTION's modular temporary pavilions for healthcare workers.

A Temporary Pavilion under construction

What’s nice about this design is not only its ease of deployment, but how much it feels like a real residence despite its small size. A lot of emergency shelters are made of flimsy, tent-like materials with only the barest of comforts, but these pavilions seem both hospitable and durable enough to reuse again and again.

The first prototype was inaugurated on May 15th outside the Red Cross of Ospeda Central in Mexico City, and was ultimately moved to the Mexican Red Cross Hospital in Polanco, where it will stay until September 2020.

Computer graphic illustrates just how easy it would be to fit several of these shelters in a single parking lot.

Aerial view illustrates just how easy it would be to fit several of these shelters in a single parking lot.

The design of the pavilion was intended to be installed in patios or parking lots, as these are spaces that become obsolete during contingencies,” says the architect. “Its modules resist all types of weather thanks to the thermal and waterproof properties of poly-aluminium on the outside, and inside it is coated with antibacterial paint to facilitate disinfection among users.”

“The plans and assembly manual of the modules will be available on the official website of the Mexican Red Cross for free download, so that the general public can access them as a technical resource for guidance and advice to set up their own temporary housing spaces according to the needs in [their] state or locality.”

Tiny temporary housing pavilions for healthcare workers designed by Mexico City-based firm REVOLUTION.

REVOLUTION is an office founded in 2015 by Andrés Bustó Arrieta, architect from the Universidad Iberoamericana and specialist in vertical development of housing and mixed uses by the University of New York. Among its most relevant projects are the Pabellón Pedregal shopping center in Mexico City, the MAZUL residential complexes in Santa Elena, Oaxaca, the Cancún Resort in Cancún, Quintana Roo, and the Master Plan for the construction of temporary housing for those affected by the Earthquake of September 2017 in Ocuilán, State of Mexico.”