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How can RIBA members contribute to the COVID-19 frontline effort?

A note from Alan Vallance, RIBA CEO, outlining to Government how architects can help fight COVID-19 by making frontline equipment.

01 April 2020

A note from RIBA CEO, Alan Vallance... 

On Sunday, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the Government "will not stop" to get personal protective equipment to frontline workers. "We simply cannot and should not ask people to be on the frontline without the right protective equipment," he said at the daily press conference. 

At this extraordinary time, many hospitals, GP practices and other healthcare facilities are facing vital equipment shortages, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ventilators. 

Several RIBA Chartered Practices including HOK, HTA, Perkins and Will and Penoyre & Prasad have identified that they have the necessary skills and equipment to manufacture 3D printed products, including PPE and ventilator components, in order to meet demand. So last week I wrote to the Secretary of State for Business and Industry, Nadhim Zahawi outlining how the skills of architects can be used during this period of national crisis.

I outlined how sections of the architecture profession, and associated specialist architectural model-making sector, have the capability and spare capacity in terms of both computer software and 3D printing/rapid prototyping machinery for this production. With 3D printers being a standard tool for architecture firms, primarily for use in model-making, practices have a wide spectrum of 3D printing capacity, most commonly Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) and Vat Polymerisation (SLA/DLP), but also Powder Bed Fusion, Material Jetting and Binder Jetting processes. Architects’ experience of using these tools and products can be brought forward to support the UK’s action to treat COVID-19.

We hope that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will take up our offer of support and expertise - and let us know how our members can help. It has been fantastic to see our members rise to the challenges posed by COVID-19 – with RIBA Chartered Practice BDP leading the rapid conversion of London’s ExCel Centre into the Nightingale Hospital to treat coronavirus patients. As further opportunities arise for our members to contribute their expertise and resources to manage and treat COVID-19, the RIBA will continue to support them and provide a coordinated response.

Members can register their interest by emailing info@riba.org.

Visit the RIBA's COVID-19 hub for regularly updated advice and guidance for architects.

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