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HEALTHCARE ARCHITECTURE


MIGUEL Á. AGUILAR – INDEPENDENT RESEARCH ARCHITECT; SILVIA S. CAPARELLI – RESEARCH ARCHITECT, PROFESSIONAL COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTS OF MAR DEL PLATA, ARGENTINA


Proxemics & biosecurity as hospital design tools


Argentinian research architects Miguel Á. Aguilar and Silvia S. Caparelli make the case for incorporating biosecurity and proxemics - the study of human use of space and the effects that population density has on behaviour, communication, and social interaction – into healthcare building design.


How have we gone from the image of a nurse asking us for silence, to that of someone who seems equipped for bacteriological warfare and asks us directly to stop? Humanity has overcome many pandemics such as smallpox, measles, Spanish flu, Black Death, and HIV. As they were overcome, they


produced changes in sanitary measures, such as quarantining, water purification, withdrawal of effluents to a stream, building improvements, urban planning, separation of cemeteries so as not to contaminate the soil and water tables. At present, there are many architectural undertakings in healthcare aimed at finding effective solutions for dealing with COVID-19. In general, there are three main principles for healthcare buildings to limit the transmission of diseases. l Limit the spread of droplets between people, including imposing distances between people to avoid direct


contact with respiratory droplets.


l Mitigate contagion through surfaces by identifying, cleaning and disinfecting high contact surfaces.


l Control of airborne infections by preventing and eliminating polluted air.


Miguel Ángel Aguilar Miguel Ángel Aguilar is an independent healthcare research


architect based in Argentina. A specialist in the construction and layout of laboratories, Miguel has given biosafety lectures on the subject of ergonomics and proxemics.


He has designed transportable biosafety laboratories, hospital modules with biosafety, and a respiratory safety cabinet. Miguel is also an advisor to the National University of Quilmes, Argentina.


Silvia Susana Caparelli


Silvia Susana Caparelli is an Argentinian healthcare research architect. Since 2005, Silvia has worked in the technical area of the Professional College of Architects of Mar del Plata.


Silvia trained in ‘biosafety in the laboratory’ at Buenos Aires National Academy of Medicine. She has authored and taught classes in biosafety in her home country. Silvia has also given speeches on the subject in conferences in Latin America and Europe, including ‘Biosafety as a tool in detection and control/reduction of risks’.


IFHE DIGEST 2021


Meanwhile, WHO guidance for COVID-19 calls for people to use hand washing, face coverings and social distancing. However, maintaining physical distance has become difficult for many people to comply with, not only because we are sociable beings but also because normal social distance varies according to different cultures. Surveys in Latin American countries


have found that people find it difficult to adjust to foregoing close contact with family members and maintaining a social distance with work colleagues. We have a hard time repressing the spontaneity of handshakes and hugs, learned from our Spanish and Italian ancestors. The difficulty is even more pronounced in some Middle Eastern countries, where personal distance tends to be closer due to the cultural need to ‘smell’ to interpret if people are telling the truth. Families even smell the bride to see if she is the right person to marry! So, we can see that general, globalised


COVID-19 rules and healthcare architecture solutions for myriad places and cultures, with their customs rooted for centuries, can be problematic. We propose another way that gives us


the answers. From our experience in proxemics and biosafety, we want to share


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