COVID-19 Surge Centre - Canberra

In times of crisis, can a new health facility be conceived of and constructed within 5 weeks? Austruss' client for this project, Manteena Commercial, delivered a relocatable COVID-19 Surge Facility in Canberra within a 7 day design phase and 36 day construction phase.

The brief from Manteena was to come up with a light gauge steel design for the structure that would allow it to not only be erected on a football field in the ACT, but allow it to be broken down again, packed in a container and transported to a new site. Due to Austruss' previous experience delivering challenging health projects using prefabricated elements, we were able to respond and mobilise resources quickly to facilitate the build. As well as consultancy on Design for Manufacture and Assembly, Austruss provided the prefabricated floor system, internal and external wall frames and roof panels.

The video below about the project is produced by Manteena Commercial.

Austruss' Design For Manufacture and Assembly solutions offered key efficiencies for this fast tracked project:

  • COVID site safety: social distancing requirements on site due to COVID-19 were alleviated by having core building elements fabricated off site, limiting the number of tradespeople required on site at once

  • parallel procurement: whilst ground works, site preparation and service provision were occurring on site, Austruss was prefabricating elements in our facility so that they were ready to install once the site was ready, saving valuable time in an already fast tracked construction program

  • provide design flexibility during construction phase: the prefabricated wall frames were standardised and simplified in size to make mass production possible and allow for flexibility of door location and operation. The prefabricated roof framing allowed sufficient penetrations and pathways to give flexibility to the service design.

  • safe work environment: one of the core delivery decisions was to install as many services under floor level as possible to allow work to continue above floor level unimpeded by service co-ordination and installation, particularly because service design was occurring in parallel to the construction process. Austruss' prefabricated floor system arrived to site with structure and sheeting already complete, and was installed on a pier system within days, so that work could continue safely above and below.

  • enclose the building quickly to allow internal works to begin: the prefabricated roof system allowed the building to be enclosed and weather tight within days so that finishing and fitting out could begin.

  • allow the building to be disassembled and relocated: the prefabricated building elements were designed to be transported and easily assembled, disassembled and reassembled.


The efficiencies and innovations of this project have been recognised by various national and international networks with feature articles and webinars:


ACT Health commissioned Aspen Medical to deliver a COVID-19 Surge Centre in Canberra. Aspen Medical engaged Manteena to deliver a D&C contract with a 7 day design phase and a 36 day construction phase, and Manteena then engaged Austruss to deliver a D&C contract.

Austruss' scope was prefabricated floor system, internal and external wall frames and roof panels, to be designed, engineered, fabricated and delivered within 14 days despite the architectural floor plans and service design not being fully finalised. Due to this, Austruss' system had to be flexible to allow for minor and major changes as the build progressed.

Austruss' Design for Manufacture and Assembly approach offered several unique solutions to the demands of needing to start fabrication and construction before architectural and service design was resolved and co-ordinated:

  • the prefabricated floor system provided a stable work platform that allowed services to be run under floor level whilst work proceeded above floor level, and allowing flexibility for design changes to the internal layout

  • the wall frames were standarised to allow for mass production, and were designed and delivered as telescopic, so that they could be stretched or shortened as the design was resolved

  • the wall frame design allowed for flexibility in the door location, width and operation, so that changes could be incorporated as the architectural design was resolved

  • the wall frames and roof framing offered flexibility for service integration by providing easy penetrations for running services and integrating larger units

  • the roof panels quickly enclosed the building, and allowed for flexibility for changes to internal wall layouts

Austruss are proud to have been a part of the this project and worked for 14 days straight in double shifts to design, manufacture and deliver our portion of this project.