Architects & Designers at COVID-19 frontline : Isolation Cells developed by CHHAT, an architecture students initiative


Posted on: May 24th, 2020

Architects & Designers at COVID-19 frontline : Isolation Cells developed by CHHAT, an architecture students initiative

Article by: Aashna Agarwal

The world right now is fighting against a very uncommon enemy: The COVID-19 Virus. Not only this fight requires resources, it also needs innovation, as humankind was not prepared for such a war. The COVID-19 Pandemic has pushed all Architects, Designers, Professionals and Academicians to look at the built environment differently. Social Distancing, work from home, have become a new norm, and quarantine seems like a never ending cycle.

Even though the designers may not be in the frontline of this fight for humankind, as a body of intellectuals and professionals, they still have the capacity to bring about innovation and help out in this hour of crisis. Centre for Human Habitat and Alternative Technology – CHHAT, a student initiative from Vadodara Design Academy, India, not only conceived, but is executing a unique and innovative solution. It has developed multi-purpose deployable structures that not only serve as isolation cells for COVID affected patients but also shade the front line health workers such as the police force, migrant labourers and stranded people. While the design is open-source and not for profit, Volunteers at CHHAT are also building these cells with the help of local labour in Anand and installing it at commissioned sites.


CHHAT is a student initiative emerged through a teaching – learning process that aims to seek, impart and spread knowledge to design and execute for the real contextual needs. Located in India it addresses the challenges of immediate shelter requirements through designing universal building solutions. The organization aims to address the challenges of shelter requirement and habitat for community through a unique design-build strategy where volunteers learn to explore, experiment and produce ecologically responsive and simple design solutions. In 2016, they were awarded the Buckminster Fuller Challenge which is the highest prize for socially responsible design.


Adaptable and lightweight modular domes, made from natural, local or recycled materials which won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge 2016


Various elements designed by CHHAT to fight against the global Pandemic


The organisation implements their motive through “Capacity Building Program” by involving more and more individuals from diverse backgrounds to participate in the teaching-learning process that takes place through experimenting and exploring various vistas of vernacular materials aiming towards low carbon future and sustainable habitats. More than 300 participants who have worked on several sustainable design projects have helped build the initiative – CHHAT.

Extending its philosophy of addressing immediate shelter requirements, in the light of COVID-19 pandemic, CHHAT has responded to the need of isolation by a 7 x 7 x 7 feet cubic cell made of bamboo frame and High-density Polypropylene fabric. They are portable, prefabricated modules with standardized components assembled in a factory setup, which can be deployed on-site under a timeframe of 2 minutes. These are easy to build and keeping in mind the economics of manufacturing, cost only Rs 2500 ($33).  The design of the cell is such that it can be replicated easily to form a cluster and can be placed in both indoor as well as shaded outdoor conditions.

Technical Information of the Quarantine Cells


Visual Representation of easy movement and installation of Quarantine Cells




Design Specifications of the Quarantine Cells

Size: 7x7x7 feet
Materials: Bamboo Frame and High-density Polypropylene fabric
System Type: Deployable structure.
Building Capacity: 200 Cells each week
Time to assemble: 25 minutes
Time to deploy: < 2 minutes

The isolation cells can be used for mobile testing centres, health camps setups and for police outposts. It is ideal for makeshift medical centres, temporary relief camps, Sheltering the frontline medical and law enforcement staff or the street vendors. Once it serves its primary function, CHHAT envisions donating these deployable spaces to house the homeless/footpath dwellers in the coming monsoon.

Users inside the Cells


Images of Installed Cells


Images of Installed Cells


Images of Installed Cells


Images of Installed Cells


The CHHAT Team has been extending their support by installing over 100 units Of Cells around Anand District of Gujarat that serve as Temporary Police Outposts, testing centres and holding areas for strangled migrants. With the capacity to build 200+ cells each week, their team plans to help thousands by deploying the Cell with the help of CHHAT volunteers already placed at various locations across India.

With this approach of alternative technology towards emergency shelter needs which are instantaneous, flexible, sustainable and constantly evolving with the situation and time, the CHHAT Foundation stands forth to support humanity during the times of Pandemic, Disasters and Emergency needs. To contribute to their cause connect with them at


Project Information

Architects: Centre for Human Habitat and Alternative Technology – CHHAT FOUNDATION
Project Title: Multipurpose Quarantine Cells for SARS COV-2
Year: 2020
Implemented in: Anand District, Gujarat, India.
Founder: Prof. Nirav Hirpara, Director-Vadodara Design Academy.
Co-Founder : Ar. Sapan Hirpara
Core Team Members: Ar. Anoli Shah (Hyderabad),  Ar. Arihant Bajaj (Indore), Ar. Chetak Mistry (Mehsana), Ar. Durjoy Biswas (Kolkata), Dwij Hirpara (Anand), Ar. Gazelle Modi (Ahmedabad),  Ar. Gunjan Modi (Surat), Ar. Himalay Goraniya (Porbandar), Ar.Karan Divecha (Vadodara) and Sakshi Pawar (Goa).
Local Collaborators: Rotary Club of Anand Round Town.

Locations of installed Quarantine Cells by CHHAT


Quarantine Cells Under Construction


Upcycled PVC Bamboo Basin


Folded, ready to transport Quarantine Cells


Team Members of CHHAT





Articles by: Aashna Agarwal

Architects & Designers at COVID-19 frontline : Isolation Cells developed by CHHAT, an architecture students initiative

Aashna is a fresh graduate of Architecture form CEPT University, India. Her Interests lie in reading and writing about the contemporary world and architecture. She is currently a Research Associate with ArchiDiaries

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