- Lead Designer: Yasue Imai
- Curtain Design: jyu+, Jyu+ / Yuriko Nagayoshi
- Contractor: Shoken Kikaku
- Designer : Yasue Imai
- City: Takarazuka
- Country: Japan
“Bubble Parking - a design for COVID-19 testing in a medical clinic”_Yasue Imai. A design converting a part of a clinic parking zone into an outpatient test area. Who would have predicted the spread of COVID-19 would so drastically change our perception of the world, back at the beginning of 2020?
In the small clinic where my father works, it was difficult to install a PCR testing booth, appropriately separated from the general medical area. The issue of how to avoid nosocomial infection at the clinic was a serious concern by the summer of 2020, and this project was made when we were facing the first winter with widespread COVID-19 in Japan. In order to respond adaptably to the change of the medical situation, we decided to create an outpatient testing area, by sectioning off the area of 1½ parking spot, in the downstairs parking lot of the clinic.
The main design elements are vinyl curtains. By using different transparencies, lengths, and details, functional zoning is achieved. The curtains are low maintenance and easy to adjust or remove. The material ensures easy cleaning and disinfection. The reinforced concrete structure of the garage was built in 1971 and has stood largely unchanged with a rough finish for the past 50 years. I applied a glossy coating on the floor and ceiling of the project area, to ensure the space can easily be wiped clean.
A transparent-blue vinyl wall divides the patients and medical-staff sides. As it is important to keep the patients and medical staff separate from each other, especially in a small clinic where there is only one doctor and a few nurses to handle all the outpatients. Furthermore, the separation helps reduce the time required to put on and take off protective clothing.
On the patient's side, two curtains divide the space into three areas: waiting, consultation, and testing booth. The curtains hang from curved rails in semicircle shapes, allowing the degree of openness to be adjusted seamlessly. Reducing the psychological stress on the patients surrounded by the curtains. In the waiting area, there are two custom benches with partitions and backrests made of vinyl fabric.
Three different types and colors of vinyl fabric were used, semi-transparent milky-white, opaque yellow, and transparent blue. The overlapping clear colors stand out and give a fresh feeling to the small corner of the old parking space. It naturally conveys to the surroundings and passersby that this 1½ parking spot has been transformed into a space for people.
A challenge of this project was to position the space itself as a notice board, sending the community a message that this clinic and family doctor has a responsibility to the unprecedented spread of infection from COVID-19. If a clinic is not equipped with a proper space for infectious diseases, the psychological burden on not only patients suspected of being infected, but also those who visit the clinic for other diseases, and above all, on the medical staff, is immeasurable. Even if the facilities are minimal, the visualization of this small set-up in the area, connected to the street, conveys that a clinic is a place where people can safely consult if they have any problems.
Now we can hear the small sound of bubbles bursting all over the world, everyday spaces are going to open up again – a space full of information, freshness, and relaxation. This design was born out of serious concern, but the design is light and the simple installation allows anyone to easily remove it and return the space to its original purpose of parking when it is no longer needed. As a designer, I hope that the out-of-bubble day will come soon.