A Mobile Hospital – Its Advantages and Functional Limitations

A Mobile Hospital – Its Advantages and Functional Limitations

J. Bakowski 

Faculty of Architecture, Gdansk University of Technology, Poland.

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The idea of a mobile hospital is not entirely new – the need for their use, ranging from military field hospitals to the charity or mass disaster tent cities, shows how much they are needed. While these cases can be reduced to a portable ambulatory unit with a limited scope of outpatient medical activities, a fully functional hospital is a system with a high degree of complexity far exceeding a regime of compact objects.

Solutions belonging to the category of mobile architecture are increasingly common, technical and logistic difficulties are solved in a more perfect way. This applies mostly to objects with simple layouts and functional relationships, with relatively little technical equipment. In the case of healthcare facilities there are several factors increasing the difficulty: multitude of functional connections, sanitary requirements, technical equipment, and internal infrastructure. This raises the question if it is possible to build a hospital as a modular and mobile structure.

An emergency department (ED), regardless of principles of its operation, is a fully independent unit of a hospital. Depending on the solutions it can operate as a stand-alone entity (as in the American solutions), or in conjunction with the whole hospital (but still autonomously, as in European solutions). Taking some simplifications the ED can be treated as a miniature hospital, in its internal structure one can find all the elements that make up a fully functional hospital and the scale of solutions allows enclosing the ED layout on a relatively small area.

Construction of a mobile hospital unit is a task of interest from different points of view: the applicability of this approach includes both the military and civilian objectives. The paper tries to answer the question what terms and conditions must meet the functional system of such a healthcare facility, especially what are the boundaries for the fully functioning emergency mobile hospital. Strictly architectural issues, i.e. the form or construction and materials used to build such structures are out of scope of this paper.


 emergency hospital, healthcare architecture, mobile hospital


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