Learn how shipping containers can be transformed into COVID-19 ICUs

Carlo Ratti, Professor of Urban Technologies & Planning at MIT, joined forces with an international team of designers, engineers, medical professionals and military experts to work on CURA, an open-source project aimed at capacity building in intensive care units (ICU). CURA, whose name stands for Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments (and also “cure” in Latin), uses repurposed shipping containers to create plug-in biocontainment pods that can be quickly deployed in cities around the world, promptly responding to the shortage of ICU space in hospitals and the spread of the disease.

The compact ICU pod for patients with respiratory infections is hosted in a 20-foot intermodal container with biocontainment (thanks to negative pressure). The prototype strives to be as fast to mount as a hospital tent, but as safe to work in as as a hospital’s isolation ward. Each unit works autonomously and can be shipped anywhere. Individual pods are connected by an inflatable structure to create multiple modular configurations (from 4 beds to over 40) that can be deployed in just a few hours. Some pods can be placed in proximity to a hospital (e.g. in parking lots) to expand its ICU capacity, while others could be used to create self-standing field hospitals of varying sizes. Each CURA pod would contain all the medical equipment needed for two COVID-19 intensive care patients – including ventilators and IV stands. All units can be connected by an inflatable corridor.



Published: April 2020


Open-source design for emergency COVID-19 hospitals

Image: CURA