How Aspen Medical fast-tracked construction of a medical surge centre during a pandemic lockdown.

  • Designed and constructed a fully functioning 51-bed medical surge centre in five weeks.
  • Silver Medal at the International Project Management Association (IPMA) Awards in November 2020.

As the COVID-19 global pandemic began and spread to Australia, Aspen Medical delivered on the backup plan Canberra hoped it would never need.

Overcoming supply chain issues, domestic and international border closures and high demand for staff of all qualifications, we met the ACT Government’s request for a COVID-19 medical surge centre, achieving World Health Organization Standards (WHO).

These evolving standards for infection control required unique engineering solutions that reversed standard hospital builds to protect staff from an infection all patients would already share.

Building on experience combating Ebola in Sierra Leone, Aspen Medical liaised with the WHO and constructed the 51 bed facility, each bed being mechanically isolated from the others to prevent infection spread.

Six resuscitation bays were provided to better manage patients requiring ventilation. These bays are vented 12-15 times per hour. Due to the colder climate in Canberra, the heat in the building was recaptured through a heat exchange system.

The medical surge centre achieved independent hospital licensing and was completed and open for patients within just five weeks from the start of construction.

Established community relationships
Aspen Medical was proud to be a part of such a significant project in its local community. Working closely in partnership with the ACT Government and leveraging local contacts for off-the-shelf and locally manufactured materials ensured supply during a period of uncertainty.
Smarter, faster and flawless whilst meeting evolving standards was a high brief to achieve. Innovative features included snap-together doors, elevated floors and raised roof height. These saved time and increased flexibility, allowing more space for services to be installed into ceiling and flooring after construction.
The facility was constructed under restrictions in place due to the pandemic. Crews worked together in isolation of others to prevent infection spread. Careful attention to distancing of teams from each other allowed for a safe and effective approach towards construction.
Strong project management methodology
As best practice support for the COVID-19 pandemic was constantly evolving, timelines were not. Highly experienced senior staff were on site daily for immediate decision making as issues arose.


This really wasn’t just a construction project. It was a community project.
Duncan Edghill, Chief Projects Officer at Major Projects Canberra (Infrastructure Directorate of the ACT Government).
[Aspen Medical] knows how to get this stuff done, and we’re lucky to have Aspen in the community.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith


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