AIDS Mobile Unit

Rhino. HIV in Africa is not only a crisis beyond words, but beyond images. The calamitous epidemic, caused by an unseen microscopic force, becomes apparent through absence– it is the loss of community, parentage, future that unfolds through a slow disappearance of life. And it is memory that remains our own images of connectivity and potential, of faces, and cities.

The RHINO project seeks to negotiate between the desire to give the reality of HIV, a presence through image– a mobile architectural icon– and let the mobile object be a smooth and familiar part of the communities it serves. Thus, this is done through space and time. When arriving to a site, the unit is a distinct object, noticeable in its material difference and shape. It then begins a transformation which allows it to open up to the community, to take shape, and connect to existing familiar networks and pathways. It unpacks and reveals three areas of engagement: space for education, testing and treatment. The first opening is at the front end, [where it detaches from a heavy duty truck], which can serve as a place to get information. The second is through one side that opens up allowing for easy access to HIV testing and minor medical assistance. The third is the clinic side that limits access to patients in need of greater care, pregnant women needing exams or longer term help. It can become a center for multiple levels of activity, to engage anyone affected by HIV, to form new memories and spread information.

The mobile unit consists of a double-sided spatial configuration that pushes out into its site. The interior is defined by the activities within; specific profiles allow for storage, counter space, seating and bed surfaces to be pushed or pulled from the structural liners. In between the liners lies all of the infrastructure necessary for a medical unit including: water stored in tanks, medical supplies, miscellaneous storage, staff space, rigid structure, and electrical systems. These are combined into a central spine in order to increase the area for circulation. The intent is to provide smooth access to internal spaces in order to maximize the number of contact hours between clinic staff and people.