Plans floated to potentially convert Soccer City into 1 500-bed Covid-19 medical facility

22nd April 2020 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Staff Writer and Photographer

Plans floated to potentially convert Soccer City into 1 500-bed Covid-19 medical facility

FNB Soccer City Stadium

Architecture studio Boogertman and Partners, in association with healthcare design architects Geyser Hahn, have drawn up plans for design and support services to convert the Johannesburg FNB Soccer City Stadium into a 1 500-bed temporary severe acute respiratory infections treatment centre.

The Soccer City proposal is in response to a brief from private infrastructure company Blue IQ, which is responding to a Department of Health and regional government call for proposals for emergency facility solutions.

A dedicated team of professionals including architects, hospital design specialists and interior and urban designers responded to a 72-hour turnaround brief, on March 28, to propose a design to potentially turn the stadium into a field hospital.

The decision on whether it goes ahead rests on domestic infection rates and a call from government on whether it will require a facility this size.

The team worked in lockdown and used digital communication platform Zoom for design collaborations. While responding with urgency to prepare for the situation that would emerge with a fast infection rate which could overwhelm the existing Gauteng health infrastructure, they took care to work with international and local best practice guidelines.

From the World Health Organisation, to the requirements of national and provincial departments of health and consulting with peers in the UK preparing similar facilities, the team gathered insight and learnings while prototyping solutions.

The final proposal is a holistic solution that includes adjusting a UK National Health Service patient flow process from admission to treatment and escalation to intensive care unit wards if needed, right through to mortuaries and provisions for the safety, protection and rest areas for medical staff.

Provision of facilities for patients was divided into three categories of risk with the appropriate shielding and cubicles used for those with the highest need of care and intubation with beds and less intensive medical facilities provided for patients who needed to be monitored to assess their level of response to the Covid-19 infection.

The final scheme in the field hospital proposal accommodates a minimum of 1 500 beds. It is engineered for the best safety possible while accommodating the high volume of patients, medical specialists, support staff and vendors of up to over 4 500 people daily if the facility operates at full capacity.

The partnership notes that a stadium designed for large volumes of segregated audiences to move swiftly within defined areas (players, spectators, media, VIPs and vendors) lends itself well to creating space for patients, medical staff and suppliers to move through a treatment system while keeping the distance needed to reduce the risk of increased infection.

From basement level, to the upper suite levels, each tier of the stadium was assigned a role in the flow of treatment, from testing and patient assessment, to high care in intensive care units (ICU).

Owing to the skill set within the group and the partnerships made over years of project delivery, the design and logistics proposal for Soccer City and an alternate site, Loftus Versfeld, in Pretoria, were ready for presentation by March 31.

Boogertman and Partners director Jean Grobler highlights the combination of the Soccer City original design teams’ knowledge of the stadium through Geyser Hahn health design specialists Bob van Bebber and Henry du Plessis’ and the understanding of the challenges and inputs from Boogertman and Partners' range of design skills partnered with engineers, quantity surveyors and safety specialists.