ro | en
ArgumentNo. 13/2021

Face to Face in the Built Space: Koch's Bacillus, Influenza Viruses and Coronaviruses. Architectural Design versus Transmissible Respiratory Disease

  • / PhD. arch., “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, RO


In the context of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic of 2020-2021, the subject of architectural space versatility is to be addressed firstly concerning its ability to be used or to be adapter for being used – precisely in this order – safely, efficiently and inducing a pleasant experience. The article discusses to what degree the above stated requirements lead to altering, in the short term or in the long term, of the way in which architects configure the built space.

The analysis is conducted by means of a comparison between the mechanisms through which the pathogens of tuberculosis, of influenza and coronaviruses have affected or still do affect the architectural creation process and, implicitly, its products. Referring to past or recent experiences and throwing light on the notable similarities and distinctions between the above listed situations, the on-going pandemic can be regarded from a larger perspective, allowing for tracing a more precise optimal roadmap. After taking into consideration the relevant global evolutions, the article also leans over some context details regarding the Romanian territory, investigating their implications.

The analysis thus operated, makes visible the distinction between the built space elements and configurations that contribute to the protection against all of the transmissible respiratory maladies taken into consideration, on the one side, and the ones only bearing a limited use. The importance of the approach resides not only in helping the architects orient when dealing with individual projects, but also in potentially influencing some decisions bearing a larger impact - technical ones, such as building regulations, or political and administrative ones, like the allocation of resources.

This article represents a continuation of the research, a deepening of the ideas and a test of the conclusions of my recently defended PhD thesis, titled “Imprints of Tuberculosis in the Built Environment. Overall Evolutions and Romanian Hypostases”.


built environment, architecture, tuberculosis, transmissible respiratory diseases, epidemic



  1. Bean, B., Moore, B.M., Sterner, B., Peterson, L.R., Gerding, D.N. & Balfour, H.H. (1982). The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 146(1), 47-51. doi: 10.1093/infdis/146.1.47.
  2. Bennett, J.C. & Plum, F., (Ed.). (1996). Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 20th Edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2005). Guidelines for Preventing the Transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Health-Care Settings. MMWR, 54(RR-17).
  4. Chan-Yeung, M. & Xu, R-H. (2003). SARS: epidemiology. Respirology, 8(Suppl 1), S9-S14. Doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1843.2003. 00518.x.
  5. Cornelissen, L., DeMuylder, G., Lafort, Y., Laisnez, V., Litzroth, A., Van Valkenborgh, E. & Wyndham Thomas, C. (2021). Fact Sheet COVID-19 disease (SARS-CoV-2 virus). Version 10. Sciensano,
  6. Daniel, T.M. (2006). The history of tuberculosis. Respiratory Medicine, 100(11), 1862-1870. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2006.08.006.
  7. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, WHO Regional Office for Europe. (2021). Tuberculosis surveillance and monitoring in Europe 2021 – 2019 data. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe.
  8. Hawryluck, L., Gold, W.L., Robinson, S., Pogorski, S., Galea, S. & Styra, R. (2004). SARS Control and Psychological Effects of Quarantine, Toronto, Canada. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 10(7), 1206-1212. doi: 10.3201/eid1007.030703.
  9. Herman, P., Fauville-Dufaux, M., Breyer, D., Van Vaerenbergh, B., Pauwels, K., Do Thi, C.D., Sneyers, M., Wanlin, M., Snacken, R. & Moens, W. (2006). Biosafety Recommendations for the Contained Use of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex Isolates in Industrialized Countries. Brussels: Scientific Institute of Public Health.
  10. Lai, P-C., Low, C-T., Tse, W-S. C., Tsui, C-K, Lee, H. & Hui, P-K. (2013). Risk of Tuberculosis in high-rise and high density dwellings: an exploratory spatial analysis. Environmental Pollution, 183, 40-45. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2012.11.025.
  11. Li, Y., Duan, S., Yu, I.T.S. & Wong, T.W. (2004). Multi-zone modeling of probable SARS virus transmission by airflow between flats in Block E, Amoy Gardens. Indoor Air, 15(2), 96-111. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0668.2004.00318.x.
  12. Low, C-T., Lai, P-C., Tse, W-S. C., Tsui, C-K, Lee, H. & Hui, P-K. (2013). Exploring Tuberculosis by Types of Housing Development. Social Science & Medicine, 87, 77-83. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.03.024.
  13. Martinez, L., Verma, R., Croda, J., Horsburgh, C.R.Jr., Walter, K.S., Degner, N., Middelkoop, K., Koch, A., Hermans, S., Warner., D.F., Wood, R., Cobelens, F. & Andrews, J.R. (2019). Detection, survival and infectious potential of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the environment: a review of the evidence and epidemiological implications. European Respiratory Journal, 53(6). doi: 10.1183/13993003.02302-2018.
  14. McKinney K.R., Gong, Y.Y. & Lewis, T.G. (2006). Environmental transmission or SARS at Amoy Gardens. Journal of Environmental Health, 68(9), 26-30. PMID:16696450.
  15. Pardeshi, P., Jadhav, B., Singh, R., Kapoor, N., Bardhan, R., Arnab, J., David, S. & Roy, N. (2020). Association between architectural parameters and burden of tuberculosis in three resettlement colonies of M-East Ward, Mumbai, India. Cities & Health, 4(3), 303-320. doi:10.1080/23748834.2020.1731919.
  16. Perry, K.A., Couliette, A.D., Rose, L.J., Shams, A.M., Edwards, J.R. & Noble-Wang, J.A. (2016). Persistence of Influenza A (H1N1) Virus on Stainless Steel Surfaces. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 82(11):3239-3245. doi: 10.1128/AEM.04046-15.
  17. Scoresby-Jackson, R.E. (1862). Medical Climatology: or A Topographical and Meteorological Description of the Localities Resorted To in Winter and Summer by invalids of Various Classes, both at Home and Abroad. London: John Churchill.
  18. Ulrich, R.S. (1984). View Through a Window May Influence Recovery From Surgery. Science, 4647, 420-421. 
  19. World Health Organization. (2021). Roadmap to improve and ensure good indoor ventilation in the context of COVID-19. Geneva: World Health Organization.