Meeting a Difficult Challenge: Hong Kong Quarantine Camps

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To fight COVID-19 in Hong Kong, it has been urgently necessary to provide quarantine camps. In response to this pressing social need, Counting by Hours has been established as a guiding principle. The Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) was given the responsibility to provide quarantine camps; since late January 2020, it has been looking for suitable sites and setting up quarantine facilities.

To that end, various government departments provided collaborative support under the slogan of “Together we fight COVID-19.” Dedicated frontline workers played a vital part in that effort. At the peak of construction, around 900 workers were engaged on facility sites; on-site installations were conducted around the clock, and up to forty-four quarantine units were established every day.

To expedite the construction, innovative technologies, in particular modular integrated construction (MiC), were applied. At the onset of the project, each quarantine camp was designed using standardized modular units as the main design principle: that allowed fast execution of the project. With modularization, the project could maximize the benefits of MiC in terms of the following factors: enhanced efficiency; shorter construction periods; greater site safety; better building quality; and reduced construction waste and inconvenience. By transferring the on-site construction process to a controlled factory environment, it was possible to minimize significantly the impacts of adverse weather and site constraints. Using MiC allowed timely construction of the quarantine facilities.

Over a period of six months, ArchSD completed 1,271 quarantine units; the units at Upper Lei Yue Mun Park were completed in 624 hours. The use of MiC for the quarantine camps is an excellent example of fast, high-quality project delivery; it also demonstrates how innovative technologies can be applied to offer a new mode of project delivery.

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