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Auckland Architecture Practice Designs Portable Container Clinics

  • Chow:Hill designs innovative solution to provide communities with health services, through mobile ‘container clinics’
  • 40-foot containers, configured to connect and engage communities, will provide much needed health care response to New Zealand communities in need

When Chow:Hill Architects’ Director, Stuart Mackie heard about health campaigner, Dr Lance O’Sullivan’s vision to help local communities struggling with health services by converting shipping containers into mobile ‘container clinics’, he was keen to hear more.

For Stuart Mackie, this was a passion project: “In parts of New Zealand there is currently a disconnect between the community and access to immediate health care and Dr Lance O’Sullivan is aiming to change that,” Stuart explains. “We jumped at the opportunity to help this cause through sponsorship by designing the mobile clinics that will facilitate quicker, more readily-available health care services in rural communities.”

Designing a clinic capable of being transferred all around the country gave Chow:Hill the opportunity to put their experience with health care planning to good use. The brief was simple: fit two triage areas, consultation room, waiting area, break-out area, and accessible toilet within a 40-foot shipping container. But there was a catch. The container must also be able to operate in locations with no electricity, water, and wastewater services.

“The challenge for any project with limited space available is agreeing with stakeholders what’s a must-have and what’s a nice-to-have,” Stuart explains. “The need for off-grid capability meant that this had to be considered early in the design. We integrated the system into a dedicated services room at the far end of the container and included a generator, gas bottles, battery packs, solar system, air conditioning and distribution board.”

Another aspect to consider was the waiting area. “We designed it using an inside-outside approach where patients have an area inside to wait, with the option to utilise a shaded deck outside. The deck, accompanying ramp and solar panels are modular to allow for easy folding and packing inside the container during transport. A freshwater tank and wastewater system are also available allowing the container to be used almost anywhere in the country.”

Chow:Hill Architects is a design practice with studios in Auckland, Hamilton and a satellite office in Christchurch. Chow:Hill actively supports local communities and contributes to the ‘Million Metres Streams’ initiative and the sponsoring of the Auckland Art Museum.

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