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Watertown, Massachusetts 
Fall 2020 (half semester)
Partner Siying Han
Academic, Architecture Option Studio, Harvard GSD
Instructor Spela Videcnik & Rok Oman

The project's intention is to integrate the new urban norm with a system of mobility and explore a new dynamic of health care and a sustainable urban environment. Under technological and social forces, the mobility patterns constructed through existing infrastructural systems will have the ability to facilitate the consolidation of health care, while ensuring efficient health outcomes and patient experiences.

‘Spaces of isolation’ does not follow with a single or static definition but one adapting to a variety of urban situations. While the infrastructural system eliminates the distance between one place and another, they marginalized fragments of urban spaces. With the nature of being a ‘space of isolation’ for the new norm that came along with covid-19, the railway system is an ideal ‘campground’ to accommodate individuals with medical needs. However, from another perspective, these fragmented spaces demand modifications to accommodate and stimulate communal exchanges to build up a sustainable urban model that is transformative in multiple layers of urban engagement, in order to fit in different periods of time and stages.

Introduction   01


Cases in last 7 days of Covid-19,

CDC updated Sep 9th, 2020


USNS Hospital Ship in NYC, March 30th, 2020


Coronavirus Outbreaks  02

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Conventional medical system model

Healthcare Mobility Diagram-01.jpg

Proposed medical hospital train system model

Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH
Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH
Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH

To achieve this by three steps: 

(a). Redesign and remanufacture the traditional abandoned train cabin to ensure the spaces fulfill medical requirements. 

(b). Gather medical resources and overloaded patients at the railway station and loaded to the train.

(c). Run to the suburban areas where lack of medical services, stay on the abandoned railway line or create temporary camp to provide temporary medical surgery. 







Operation Models  03


Compared to the conventional medical system model which concentrates the resources in the urban hospital, the proposed medical hospital train distributes the workflow into several steps in different places and shortens the transit distance between the patients and medical services.

Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH

Four potential sites for temporary medical camps

Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH

 Abandoned Watertown Branch 

 Fitchburg Line, Boston MBTA


The project does not have a specific site, but it is a health care model that can be applied to multiple areas. The hospital train can run to the place where the local hospitals are overloaded. The train uses the existing operating railway line for transfer and uses the abandoned railway line for stopping and provide temporary surgery to make up the medical resource shortage. The project is using the Watertown branch in Boston as an example which abandoned decades ago. The ideal sites for train stopping and create temporary camps are the marginalized urban space. They are always far away from the densely populated areas and can be easily isolated from the general citizens.

Reuse Abandoned Railway  04


Abandoned Railway Lines (photos from web)


The cabins are designed into three different levels of medical standards to fulfill the different physical conditions of the patients. Module A and B have higher levels of medical equipment but due to the specific spatial requirements, they have less flexibility to transform into social housing after the COVID. Module C provides isolation rooms that have two different modes to adapt to the running or staying conditions of the train.

Redesign The Cabins  05


Module A

Acute Care Train Cabin


​ICU (Intensive Care Unit) / Emergency Unit​
Laboratory Unit​
Pharmacy Unit​
Medical Assistant Station​
CT Scanner Room / Radiology Suites​
Isolation Ward:​
Anteroom / Airlock Clean Utility ​
Clean / Dirty Storage​
Ensuite (Shower and Toilet)


Higher acuity cares for COVID-19 patients, who require significant ventilatory support, including intensive monitoring on a ventilator. ​


Module B

Inpatient Care Train Cabin


Intensive Care Bed​
Diagnostics ​
Medical Assistant Station​
Medication Storage / Preparation Area ​
Mental Health Consultation​
Food Service​
Ensuite (Shower and Toilet)


Mid-level care for moderately symptomatic COVID-19 patients, who require nursing care and assistance with activities of daily living (ADL). 


Module C

Isolation Room Train Cabin


Patient Bed / Isolation Room ​
Housekeeping Unit​
Food Services / Kitchen Unit​
Laundry Facilities ​

Module C axon-012.jpg
Module C axon-011.jpg

General, low-level care for mildly to moderately symptomatic COVID-19 patients, who do not require extensive nursing care or assistance with activities of daily living (ADL). 

Isolated Room Unit


Transit Mode


Expanded Mode


Kitchen and Maintenance Unit


Medical Lab Unit

Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH
Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH
Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH
Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH
Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH
Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH
Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH
Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH

Deconstruct The Cabins

Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH

After the isolation of COVID, the modules contain the possibilities to be transformed and aggregated to revitalize the urban spaces where marginalized by the railways. 

By cutting, unfolding, and recombining the cabins, multiple programs can be created. Three main programs within this site are a theater where people can gather, an outdoor reading deck connected to the existing public library, and a skateboard park for local youths. They like the anchor points that organize the entire community structure.  

After Coronavirus Transformation  06

Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH

Elevated Deck + Skateboard Park


Outdoor Reading Deck


View to the skateboard park

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Existing Parking Lot

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COVID-19 Condition - Temporary Camp For Medical Train


Construction Steps - Right click to continue

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Final Axon

Space of Isolation Final Presentation_AH

Section cut through the theater

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Master Plan


View to the theater

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