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Coronavirus: Fosters, Make and Stride Treglown join face mask production efforts

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Foster + Partners has shared its design for a prototype face visor, which it says can be made faster than 3D-printed alternatives, as a growing number of architects join the frontline fight against coronavirus

The UK’s largest practice has designed a general-purpose visor for mass production. It is suitable for cleaning and reuse. Fosters has shared the templates and material specifications as an open-source asset so others can replicate the design.

The personal protective equipment, currently being tested in a number of London hospitals, comprises a PETG (Glycol modified version of Polyethylene Terephthalate) visor, an interlocking soft PP headband and surgical silicone rubber head strap, all cut on a digital flatbed cutter and assembled in under a minute.

Fosters has already cut and assembled components for 1,000 masks in a day.

Other architects are producing face masks for NHS workers on 3D printers. Make Architects’ model shop is printing 100 headbands daily from home using eight Ultimaker printers.

Make is part of the group 3DCrowd UK, a community of 3D printer owners who have come together to make plastic face shields to protect frontline health and social care workers. To date, more than 5,500 owners have joined forces to meet the request for 345,000 shields.

Make’s model shop lead Paul Miles said: ‘It’s a community-wide effort and it’s great that we at Make can do our bit. As designers and makers, it’s great to be able to use our skills to help the national effort … It’s noisy for the homeschooling, but it’s worth it.

‘We’re following a Prusa [3D printer] design which was verified by local trust, practice and infection control committees. Once they are created, DPD is doing free collection from our homes and delivery to a central assembly location. From there, the bands will be sterilised before delivery to hospitals.’

Cardiff-based Richard Croydon, senior associate at Stride Treglown, is also using a Prusa design to make 10 masks a day for workers at a local hospital, GP surgery and hospice after setting up the studio’s 3D printer in his home.

‘I am definitely, with the support of my directors, spending more time sewing on headbands than I am doing actual architecture right now,’ he said.

Meanwhile, 20 practices – including HOK, Hopkins Architects, PLP and Pekins & Will – have joined HTA in printing masks to a design endorsed by an NHS working group on personal protective equipment since the practice revealed its work last week. Each of HTA’s five printers can print 50 masks a week.

The practice is launching a website tomorrow (9 April) to share the design so others can replicate it.

Weston Williamson + Partners is taking a different approach to assisting in the crisis, drawing up a design for a temporary hospital for countries and refugee camps that lack facilities such as ExCel London– which BDP helped convert to a temporary hospital – and it will be difficult for people to self-isolate. 

The practice proposes transforming container ships, many of which are standing empty due to reduced movement of goods, into hospitals docked in ports.

Partner Chris Williamson said a standard 2.6m x 6m container was an ‘ideal size’ for treating a patient with coronavirus, with space for the necessary equipment, and would be ‘very easy to adapt’. He said the door of a unit could be folded back to let in light and a perspex sheet and air-conditioning unit added.

‘It just seemed to me putting people in an isolation ward in readily available units could be a really interesting idea,’ he said, ‘but we would have to start preparing now so the ships could be in the right place when [coronavirus] does hit [those areas].’

Williamson is talking to a couple of cargo companies about his design, but does not yet know whether anything will come of the discussions. ‘It’s an interesting idea, if not for this pandemic but in the future,’ he said. 

Weston williamson container

Weston williamson container

Do you have a 3D printer and want to get involved?

Find out how you could help the NHS by visiting the Industry Prints website. Industry Prints is a nationwide initiative to produce and distribute thousands of face visors to frontline workers. 


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