• International Journal of Technology (IJTech)
  • Vol 12, No 1 (2021)

Modular Isolation Units for Patients with Mild-to-Moderate Conditions in Response to Hospital Surges Resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Modular Isolation Units for Patients with Mild-to-Moderate Conditions in Response to Hospital Surges Resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Title: Modular Isolation Units for Patients with Mild-to-Moderate Conditions in Response to Hospital Surges Resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic
Yandi Andri Yatmo, Mochammad Mirza Yusuf Harahap, Paramita Atmodiwirjo

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Cite this article as:
Yatmo, Y.A., Harahap, M.M.Y., Atmodiwirjo, P. 2021. Modular Isolation Units for Patients with Mild-to-Moderate Conditions in Response to Hospital Surges Resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Technology. Volume 12(1), pp. 43-53

Yandi Andri Yatmo Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Mochammad Mirza Yusuf Harahap Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Paramita Atmodiwirjo Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Email to Corresponding Author

Modular Isolation Units for Patients with Mild-to-Moderate Conditions in Response to Hospital Surges Resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic

This paper presents a design proposal of an Isolation Recovery House (IRH), an adaptable modular isolation care unit specifically designed for patients with mild-to-moderate conditions as a response to an infectious disease outbreak. In particular, the study responds to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which urges the installation of isolation facilities as quickly as possible. The study offers a design solution that could expand the capacity for isolation facilities, especially in underdeveloped or developing countries, such as Indonesia, with many regions located further away from big cities. The design proposal assists existing hospitals in reducing excessive workload due to the surge in patients and control possible in-hospital transmission. The study began by investigating criteria for designing and constructing quickly-built isolation facilities that comply with the standards for isolation space, particularly COVID-19 patients. The criteria, namely quick construction, adaptability to various contexts, and meets the minimum isolation space design standards, formed the basis for proposing the IRH design. This paper argues that as a ready-to-implement design, IRH could be an option to improve health-care services during the pandemic.

Adaptable; Isolation space design; Modular; Pandemic


Since its declaration as a pandemic, COVID-19 has brought an enormous workload to hospitals around the world. A pandemic increases the need for intensive isolation spaces, where all admitted patients can be closely monitored and treated based on their conditions (Mitchell et al., 2017). Hospitals’ ICUs, however, are typically designated for patients with severe conditions even though patients with mild-to-moderate conditions must still be isolated as well—whether they are in the recovery phase or an early phase of infection (Phua et al., 2020)—to make sure that there is no further unwanted transmission. This study presents a plausible design proposal as an alternative application of technology (Suwartha et al., 2017) that addresses the aspects of isolation space facilities in the pandemic.

Several approaches have been applied to meet the need for isolation spaces, including the adaptation of existing spaces within hospital buildings (Valipoor et al., 2020), the alteration of existing structures with vast space, such as stadiums and exhibition spaces (Yuen et al., 2012; Chen and Zhao, 2020), and the installation of new isolation units (Mo, 2020).  However,  when it comes to  hospitals or  health-care facilities  in regions  far away from large cities, there is a concern regarding their capacity to provide such additional isolation spaces as there are less resources compared to hospitals located in larger cities or other more resourceful areas (Nwanya et al., 2016; Blavin and Arnos, 2020). This study explores the potential of a modular design to be implemented in such a situation.


The study has proposed the Isolation Recovery House (IRH), a design of adaptable isolation units that is applicable to various contexts in a pandemic or other major health-care situations. Through careful compilation of the minimum criteria for installing isolation spaces and modular construction systems, the study furnishes a design that responds to the need for providing additional isolation space for hospitals, health-care facilities, or other institutions with limited resources. This study positioned the IRH as a possible low-tech isolation space that does not neglect the minimum standards required of isolation space. Moreover, the modular system incorporated in the design not only offers the opportunity for fast construction and the ability to fit in various contexts, but it can also be disassembled for post-pandemic usage. However, like other health-care facilities, the IRH needs to be accompanied by other isolation and health-care measures when implemented, such as clinical procedures, cleaning procedures, and standards for staff safety.

The study presented in this paper particularly contributes to the architectural design practice of the health-care environment in the event of an emergency. Emergency health-care situations, such as a pandemic, force countries to take drastic measures to respond to hospital surges that can be costly despite the resource gap among the countries or areas within those countries that affects the extension of measures a hospital can take (Blavin and Arnos, 2020). Nevertheless, many of the emergency facilities cannot meet the resource constraint these areas have. In particular, the study adds insight into a possible low-tech health-care facility that is not only quick to construct but also relevant to those areas with limited resources.

      The proposed IRH design is open to further development for more robust implementation both in the current COVID-19 pandemic and for other possible future needs. It is necessary to conduct further investigations that look closely at how the IRH is implemented. Therefore, the quick construction and aspects of adaptability and flexibility of the IRH design proposal would be verified. A study assessing aspects revolving around the performance of the isolation space, such as a simulation study which visualizes the airflow within the IRH units, would be highly beneficial as way to ensure the performance of health-care through computational approach (Johanes et al., 2015). Further research on various systems to support the design in tackling the impact of the pandemic, such as food and medicine distribution, infection control, and the advancement of information technology (Berawi et al., 2020) is also necessary. Integration of the proposed design into relevant systems is essential to achieving the design purpose.


This research is supported by Penelitian Dasar Ristek-BRIN 2020, a research grant provided by the Ministry of Research and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia.

Supplementary Material
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