The Optimist Citizen

Jamia student develops affordable, durable, easy to install and dismantle isolation centres for COVID-19 patients

Kaif Ali, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia, has designed a prototype out-of PUF panels that ensure affordable and durable safe isolation centres. Furthermore, the prototype will also serve as feasible housing options for refugees worldwide.

Status Quo

India has faced immense challenges during this pandemic to keep the health care system from collapsing. To tackle this, home quarantine has been authorized in India. But the problem is the risk of spreading the virus to family members. Mass quarantine centres are need of the hour. However, building that infrastructure in such a short period becomes an inevitable challenge. These buildings incur a high cost, are difficult to make, and cannot be moved easily. The impromptu isolation centres have raised concerns of hygiene, improper ventilation and lack of adequate space.

The Innovator

Kaif Ali - Space Era

Kaif Ali, a 3rd year BA Architecture student of Jamia Millia Islamia has found a unique solution for this issue. He developed affordable, durable and portable containers made out of PUF panels. PUF panels made of aluminium, foam, and steel used industrially to insulate walls and roofs. The innovation had its inspiration from a century-old event. “If we look at the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and compare that with COVID-19, there are remarkable similarities. People then were quarantining in mass shelters, some even isolated themselves at the ships” says Kaif, citing how the idea to use panel made containers stuck him during his research on the same. The idea, however, had been brewing in Kaif’s head for a while by then. In 2019, he teamed with his seniors to build a low-cost housing unit for a refugee camp project. Kaif evolved the idea to bring a one-stop solution that would serve both purposes. An isolation ward for COVID patients and a housing solution for refugees. Kaif recalibrated these ideas with architectural modernizations to formulate Space Era – A standard ‘Space’ developed for the pandemic ‘Era’ and beyond.

The Isolation Centre 

Kaif’s research suggests PUF Panelled containers of size 2.5m x 6m, which can be used to form a 3-bed quarantine centre. Each container is cuboid in shape. About 8 containers can be stacked up to build a 24-bed quarantine facility. Furthermore, a single container can be used to create 4 toilet units for the user. These units can be made in open spaces near Corona hotspots and also large parking areas. The containers require 140 square meters of area. These containers are portable and can easily be dismantled. The structures are made with a corrugated metal sheet and are durable in all weather conditions. Kaif has also ensured proper ventilation by providing that each cabin has its window to ensure that patients do not feel caged, ensuring emotional balance. Furthermore, he also has incorporated the stack effect phenomena for summers.

Awards and Recognitions

Kaif has been acclaimed and recognized for his research by both national and international organizations. The Minister of Education, Ramesh Pokhriyal, acknowledged his project. It also received praise from by the UNHCR, UN Youth convoy, and several other groupings. Not only limited to recognition, but he has also won several competitions with his project. Kaif has also won Youth Brand Ambassador at IIPT (Indian Institute of Project Technology) for the COVID-19 contest and is shortlisted in the World Architecture community awards from INDIA in the student category.

The Road Ahead

Kaif  Ali has applied for a patent for his design and is waiting for it to take life. He will be leaving for Nigeria to work with the architects there. He will in parallel conduct extensive research to equip himself and pitch to other investors in the market. Upon successfully obtaining funds, Kaif plans to begin his start-up named after his project Space Era.  

The project has captured the interest of investors in Nigeria. He is now working with Architects in Nigeria. The shelter made can be used for keeping COVID-19 patients and as an affordable housing option in future. His innovation has had success in the country too. “The Ministry of MSME offered me a start-up loan,” says Kaif. He mentions how he urged the Ministry of MSME to refer his work to the Ministry of urban development and housing. “This would enable the mass production of these shelters. And hence would amplify the impact. That is something I am looking for. To benefit as many people through my work”


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