Constructing quarantine camps using Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) technology
With COVID -19 sweeping across the world, the Government has braced itself for the situation right from the beginning. Since the onset of the outbreak, it has taken decisive measures to identify suitable sites to construct quarantine camps within a short time using the innovative Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) technology to meet the demands arising from the epidemic. In completing the mission, colleagues have met many challenges in terms of time, project design, construction and logistics. The construction team has to race against time every day. Usually construction progress is assessed daily, but this time, it is assessed every hour.
800 quarantine units at Penny’s Bay completed in just a little over four months
On 18 July, phase 1 of the quarantine camps on the government site at Penny's Bay came into operation. Through this blog post, the Secretary for Food and Health, Professor CHAN Siu-chee, Sophia, would like to express her gratitude to colleagues of the works departments for their efforts and great efficiency in completing the whole project in just a little over four months. She says that given the severity of the epidemic, the supply of quarantine facilities is tight. The timely completion of 800 quarantine units at Penny’s Bay can alleviate the pressure on the existing quarantine facilities. The Civil Aid Service (CAS), the Department of Health (DH) and the Auxiliary Medical Service are in charge of the daily operation of the quarantine centre.
Architectural Services Department and Civil Engineering and Development Department shouldering construction tasks
Currently, the Government is constructing quarantine camps at four sites, namely the Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village in Chai Wan, the Sai Kung Outdoor Recreation Centre, the Junior Police Call Permanent Activity Centre in Pat Heung, and the Penny’s Bay.
The Director of Architectural Services, Mrs LAM YU Ka-wai, Sylvia, recalls that when the Chief Executive announced raising the response level for the novel coronavirus to the highest Emergency Response Level on 25 January (the first day of the Lunar New year), she received a call tasking the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) and the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) to collaborate in constructing more quarantine facilities at the fastest speed. Since February, about 1 460 quarantine units have been constructed in as short as six months. Moreover, phase 2 of about 700 quarantine units at Penny's Bay is expected to be completed in September. By then, there will be more than 2 100 quarantine units available. Meanwhile, the works departments are actively carrying out advance preparation work for the construction of 2 000 more quarantine units at Penny’s Bay as announced by the Chief Executive earlier.
Using MiC to shorten site construction time
According to Mrs Sylvia LAM, one of the important factors in enabling the construction of a large number of quarantine units within a very short period of time is the use of the MiC technology. Taking phase 1 of the quarantine camps at Penny’s Bay as an example, while the CEDD was carrying out site formation and infrastructure works, the ArchSD, contractors and design consultant teams were designing the centre at the same time. Upon the completion of design, it was the factory’s turn to start with the production and assembly process of the components of individual units. Processes involving interior decoration, building services, furniture and electrical installations were all completed in the factory. Therefore, when the components arrived at the construction site, the accommodation facilities, doors and windows, air-conditioners, individual toilets and so on for individual units were already ready. For completion, workers only had to assemble all the units and connect them to services. Not only can this method greatly shorten site construction time, it can also enhance productivity, quality control and site safety.
Stringent design requirements to protect the safety of people under quarantine
According to Mrs Sylvia LAM, in order to achieve the purpose of preventing and fighting the epidemic, the architectural team and colleagues of the DH exchange ideas from time to time to ensure that the hygienic safety of the quarantine facilities reaches the highest level. For example, “dirty corridors” and “clean corridors” are set respectively between two rows of quarantine units. The clean corridors are provided for staff and people under quarantine. Meanwhile, the dirty corridors are installed with drainage and ventilating pipes, etc., and no persons other than the personnel are allowed to enter and exit via the corridors to minimise the risk of infection. The design requirements of the ventilating pipes are also more stringent than those required under the regulations. Besides, diverse patterns and colours are applied on the façades of the units with a view to injecting positive energy to relieve the emotions of the quarantined people.
Project team standing united
There is no doubt that the project team has faced many challenges in constructing quarantine facilities one after another within a short period of time. Mrs Sylvia LAM says that, in the face of the ever-changing worldwide epidemic, everyone is very worried about the supply of materials, including the production of MiC components and cross-border transport, and also the hygiene and safety of construction sites. The construction progress was also affected by weather and workers who were required to self-isolate and undergo compulsory quarantine when returning to Hong Kong from their stay in the Mainland during the Chinese New Year holiday.
Fortunately, colleagues of various departments have stood united and co-operated with contractors to work hard to recover the progress delay. Taking phase 1 of the quarantine camps at Penny's Bay as an example, the construction of the 700 quarantine units in charge by the ArchSD were completed in just 73 days, two days earlier than the scheduled time. One of the contractors in another project succeeded in assembling 44 quarantine units within a day in order to recover the delay caused by severe weather, which means the average assembly time for each unit was only about 15 minutes.
The Government has been racing against time in completing various projects on quarantine facilities within a very short period of time by applying the innovative construction technology, MiC. Colleagues of the Food and Health Bureau, Development Bureau, ArchSD, CEDD, DH, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, Drainage Services Department, Water Supplies Department, Fire Services Department, Environmental Protection Department, Hong Kong Police Force, CAS, Transport Department, etc., along with contractors and consultant teams, have been endeavouring to increase provision of quarantine facilities and complete various projects safely and seriously, demonstrating their commitment to fighting the virus together and safeguarding the health of the community. As Professor Sophia CHAN says, she is confident that Hong Kong will surely tide over the difficulties!
26 July, 2020