Architect Akshat Bhatt shares why the Mohalla Clinics is a positive step towards sustainable healthcare

Two 20-feet-long containers are joined to create a single healthcare facility, which includes an examination room, a reception and waiting area, a pharmacy accessible from outside

Published: 07th September 2021 07:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th September 2021 07:37 AM   |  A+A-

The Mohalla Clinic  at Shakur Basti

The Mohalla Clinic at Shakur Basti

Express News Service

Imagine stepping into a healthcare facility and realising that it was once a shipping container. With the government’s newly-inaugurated Mohalla Clinics, created by Delhi-based architecture firm Architecture Discipline, this thought is now a reality.

The first prototype exhibited by Architecture Discipline was that of the Life Community Medical Facility (LifeCMF)—a modular health facility built from discarded shipping containers—at the London Design Biennale 2021. After restructuring their idea, the team approached the Delhi government with their proposal. This was then accepted as part of the Mohalla Clinics health initiative and is financially supported by Tata Power-DDL.

Currently constructed at Shakur Basti and Rani Bagh, these clinics aim to provide a compact, portable, sleek, and sustainable primary healthcare solution for neighbourhoods in Delhi, shares Akshat Bhatt, Principal Architect and Founder, Architecture Discipline. “We have been experimenting with using shipping containers as a building material for a long time. In the past, we have used it to create workspaces and even hotels — our own office has an extension made out of a repurposed shipping container. These clinics are a scaled-down version of LifeCMF, drawing on its central ideas of prefabrication, rapid deployability, and economic feasibility,” he says.

Two 20-feet-long containers are joined to create a single healthcare facility, which includes an examination room, a reception and waiting area, a pharmacy accessible from outside, as well as a washroom. “While the examination room allows a single patient, the waiting area can accommodate four to six people at once,” Bhatt reveals. The clinic is equipped to support health checks, testing, and purchase of medicines.  

Apart from being a well-structured space, the uniqueness of these healthcare facilities is in its sustainable design. These clinics also showcase innovative design for the greater good. Bhatt says, “We required containers of a certain standard of quality, which could be converted into treatment spaces. Hence, we limited our search to such units.

These containers were then transformed into prefabricated clinics at a fabrication yard leased by Architecture Discipline, where they were installed with all necessary fixtures, services, and interior finishes. They also come pre-installed with in-built furniture providing seating and storage. Since we are using discarded shipping containers, these clinics also eliminate energy consumption and pollution caused due to new construction.” 

The structures also have an anti-microbial vinyl flooring and medical-grade stainless steel countertops that are easy to maintain. “A layer of micron insulation has been added to the walls, making the clinics sound-proof and drastically improving their acoustic quality. The micron insulation consists of non-woven thermally bonded fibre, a non-flammable and hypoallergenic material, which reduces the heat absorption of the container, with the wood-lined interiors providing further protection from heat. The facility is lit with under-lighting strips, and is cooled with air conditioners fitted with microfilters that contribute to a dust-free internal environment,” adds Bhatt.

Another interesting feature is how easily these structures can be assembled. “The clinics can be deployed rapidly, taking up to 15 days for completion depending on the time taken for container procurement, site identification, and logistics. With complete prefabrication, this duration can even be brought down to two to three days,” he adds.

Compared to traditional healthcare facilities, these clinics are perfect for remote spaces in urban settlements. Bhatt explains, “The process of prefabrication takes only a few days for completion. The clinic’s mobile nature and small size allows it to be transported and deployed. This makes it ideal for use in remote regions and emergency situations such as disaster and war-struck zones that may be inaccessible by road, as these clinics can be airlifted.”

Based on user feedback of the first two clinics, future prototypes will be refined further and developed, Bhatt informs. The plan is to scale this project and construct up to 500 units in the near future. The innovative and sustainable move surely widens the scope of restructuring the city’s healthcare infrastructure.


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