Surface Summer School

An Ecuadorian Doctor and Architect Duo Recount the Coronavirus Peak in Guayaquil

The UPenn students at Surface Summer School glean the lessons of COVID-19 in Ecuador as they continue their competition to design a mobile testing unit.

(From left) Enrique Boloña Gilbert, Fabiana Alvear Gilbert, and Manuel Colon Amador.

As part of our Surface Summer School lecture series, the M.D. Internal Medicine at Critical Care Medicine and the co-principals of Intemperie Studio spoke to the students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design.

A depiction of a hospital room at the peak of Coronavirus in Guayaquil, through the eyes of a patient's visiting child.

Takeaways: “As designers, we have to think what we can give back to the city; join them in the planning for a future crisis,” Alvear Gilbert said. “[Coronavirus] made us question what our role is as architects in these types of crisis.” Reflecting on the COVID-19 peak in Ecuador’s epicenter, Guayaquil, Alvear Gilbert and Colon Amador stressed the importance of mobility and flexibility of space in flattening the curve, particularly the impact mobile testing units. Dr. Boloña Gilbert echoed that sentiment, explaining to students the emergency measures his hospital took to absorb the sudden influx of patients such as preparing the parking lot as a triage center and converting standard inpatient rooms into the ICU. “I’ve never felt this way before, this was a different beast,” Boloña Gilbert said.  

See the full schedule for the lecture series.
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