Italians will soon be returning to their public piazzas, not yet for social gatherings, but to combat COVID-19 by receiving vaccines at stylish and efficient vaccination stations devised by architect Stefano Boeri.
Taking the primrose flower as his inspiration, and under the direction of Domenica Arcuri (Italy’s special commissioner on the COVID-19 crisis), Boeri and a team of designers came up with a prefabricated structure with partitioned fabric walls, aerially mimicking the flower’s center and petals. The primrose, a bloom with deep ties to Italian art history, is one of the first flowers to blossom when temperatures begin to rise, prefiguring the end of winter.
“With the image of a springtime flower, we wanted to create an architecture that would convey a symbol of serenity and regeneration,” says Boeri. “Getting vaccinated will be an act of civic responsibility, love for others, and the rediscovery of life. If this virus has locked us up in hospitals and homes, the vaccine will bring us back into contact with life and the nature that surrounds us.”
Once the symbol was chosen, Boeri had to integrate the idea with a workable vaccination center.
“The real challenge was designing the pavilions in outdoor spaces that could be built in a short time and include the flower as a constituent element,” he explained in a streamed press conference on December 13th, 2020. “This pavilion is in the shape of a flower that can be easily dismantled with recyclable materials and comes with self-sufficient energy use, security, and protection.”
The circular edifice is made of timbers situated on a circular wooden base and will be covered by a water-resistant textile made of recyclable and naturally biodegradable materials. Printed on the outside of the tent will be the campaign logo and slogan: “With a flower, Italy comes back to life.” Sound dampening fabric will be used to form the interior partitions, allowing for the right combination of transparency and privacy, while the outer spaces will house rooms for the actual vaccinations, as well as intake areas and observation rooms for those who have just received the vaccine. At the center of the prefab pergola will be the operator and administrative hub, with space for storage, changing rooms, an office, and dedicated toilets. In addition to featuring a giant painted electric pink primrose, the roof will also incorporate a ring of photovoltaic panels large enough to generate a self-sustaining amount of energy for each building.
Italy was one of the first European countries to feel the effects of the coronavirus. In mid-December it retook the lead from the UK for total continental COVID deaths, reaching a staggering toll of 64,520. The country plans to install 1,500 of Beori’s rotundas to expeditiously administer its 3.4 million Pfizer vaccine doses by mid-January.
As an architect, Boeri gained worldwide acclaim for his design of Il Bosco Verticale (the Vertical Forest) in Milan, a pair of skyscrapers encased by walls of living plants and trees.
For the current project, Boeri and his colleagues worked pro bono, according to his website.
Boeri is hopeful that the central nature of his stations will help rally his fellow countrymen and women with a renewed sense of community. “Italy’s public life is in our piazzas. We need to make sure that these pavilions will be reachable, comfortable, and places that the community consider, for a period of time, part of their lives in order to defeat COVID-19.”