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Quarantopia: Networks of viral trauma

Part 2 Project 2013
Timothy Robinson
Leeds Beckett University, UK
Travelling into work in London in summer 2012, I looked around the tube train, counting the number of people I had come into contact with on this twenty-minute journey. It must have been in the thousands.

Global interactions are increasing, but currently governments and communities are vastly unprepared.

Quarantopia describes adaptations – the contractions and expansions in the threshold of the city fabric and landscape under viral pandemic conditions.

Macclesfield is a commuter town - satellite to Manchester - with a specialised pharmaceutical workforce dominated by Astra Zeneca. As such, it is an effective test centre with pre-existing drug production facilities and a commuter-orientated workforce.

Quarantopia proposes a network of multi-linked underground tunnels connecting existing and proposed underground networks of vital amenities and governing bodies in Macclesfield. At the core of the network, the Centre for Viral Infection and Pandemic Prevention is the headquarters of the operation. The centre houses research laboratories, accommodation for scientists, treatment areas and a factory for the production of sterile isolation units.

The building’s fabric and structure shift in form when a pandemic hits - parts of the building effectively ‘shut down’ and open up subject to the risk of viral spread. The building becomes a signpost to the outbreak, and the point of communication for residents’ pre-, during and post-pandemic.

Pre-Pandemic
The centre focuses upon prevention - research facilities in virology, vaccinology and clinical research monitor viral movements across the globe. Visitors access public areas of the centre (distinctly separated from the ‘unclean areas’) to receive information on how to prevent spread.

During-Pandemic
The building contracts to protect clinical scientists and research staff, now the focus is upon cure and distribution. Room sizes alter, and the facade moves to adapt to changes in function. The underground passageways become the lifeblood of the network, maintaining safe physical connections between support nodes and scientist living in the autonomous pandemic centre.

Post Pandemic
There is increased travel through safe zones in the town; sealed spaces are heavily regulated to stop the risk of infection. New spaces consume the former town centre, interlinking clean zones. The building resets.

Timothy Robinson

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2013
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