HighTech in the Time of Cholera

High Tech in the Time of Cholera

After an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, there was an outbreak of cholera and the need to quickly construct a center to treat the disease. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

King: In the cholera treatment center we have a very low budget; we have a very short construction times and limited resources. Because of this have to make the most of every building component that we have, including the faade.

Nathan King is an assistant professor of architecture at Virginia Tech, and Director of Research at MASS Design Group. He says the faade of the cholera treatment center had to meet special requirements.

King: The performance demands of the faade required light, so people can see what they’re doing when they’re working — but light that’s not too bright for the patients to lay in the bed comfortably. We need privacy because cholera is a tough disease, and really privacy is critical for the patients. And we need ventilation because it’s hot, humid and we need airflow to move through the building to keep the patients cool.

King and his team came up with a design for a metal faade that met the requirements. The challenge was getting it custom built in Haiti.

King: It’s a high-performance need, and we have a very low-tech environment where we have hand craft workers working with pretty incredible art pieces, but have yet to translate that into building systems on construction sites in Haiti. So we translated a technology developed here Virginia Tech, that allowed us to develop this faade in collaboration with the local metalworkers, but using locally appropriate tools.
King: So the project developed here at Virginia Tech was based on a laser cut disc that was then folded to a precise angle, and that created an opening in the faade and also controlled lighting. That was translated to the the application in Haiti by using the same strategy of cutting and folding metal, the same digital design tool that allowed us to precisely understand how light would behave and how air would flow, but then translating that to tools that are appropriate for site in Haiti: hammers, chisels for cutting the metal and then hammers and blocks for folding the metal.

I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

HighTech in the Time of Cholera

High-tech solutions for a low-tech environment.
Air Date:04/05/2018
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Transcript:

High Tech in the Time of Cholera

After an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, there was an outbreak of cholera and the need to quickly construct a center to treat the disease. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

King: In the cholera treatment center we have a very low budget; we have a very short construction times and limited resources. Because of this have to make the most of every building component that we have, including the faade.

Nathan King is an assistant professor of architecture at Virginia Tech, and Director of Research at MASS Design Group. He says the faade of the cholera treatment center had to meet special requirements.

King: The performance demands of the faade required light, so people can see what they're doing when they're working -- but light that's not too bright for the patients to lay in the bed comfortably. We need privacy because cholera is a tough disease, and really privacy is critical for the patients. And we need ventilation because it's hot, humid and we need airflow to move through the building to keep the patients cool.

King and his team came up with a design for a metal faade that met the requirements. The challenge was getting it custom built in Haiti.

King: It's a high-performance need, and we have a very low-tech environment where we have hand craft workers working with pretty incredible art pieces, but have yet to translate that into building systems on construction sites in Haiti. So we translated a technology developed here Virginia Tech, that allowed us to develop this faade in collaboration with the local metalworkers, but using locally appropriate tools.
King: So the project developed here at Virginia Tech was based on a laser cut disc that was then folded to a precise angle, and that created an opening in the faade and also controlled lighting. That was translated to the the application in Haiti by using the same strategy of cutting and folding metal, the same digital design tool that allowed us to precisely understand how light would behave and how air would flow, but then translating that to tools that are appropriate for site in Haiti: hammers, chisels for cutting the metal and then hammers and blocks for folding the metal.

I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.