Architect Builds Paper Emergency Shelters After Natural Disasters

Shigeru Ban is an architect who travels the world to rebuild temporary structures after a natural disaster, using paper tubes.
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Shigeru Ban is an architect who travels the world to rebuild temporary structures after a natural disaster, using paper tubes.
Shigeru Ban

Photo Credit: Shigeru Ban via TED

Shigeru Ban is a Japanese architect who is devoted to sustainable structures, with one of his most used materials being cardboard tubes. He travels the world to help countries build temporary structures after they have been struck with natural disasters. However, many of these structures stick around long after their intended purpose, thanks to Ban's sound designs. 

"I was very disappointed at my profession as an architect, because we are not helping, we are not working for society, but we are working for privileged people, rich people, government, developers. They have money and power. Those are invisible. So they hire us to visualize their power and money by making monumental architecture," Ban said during a TED Talk, adding that he wanted to do things differently by helping those who had lost their homes from natural disasters. 

Ban has been involved in the restructuring of homes and landmarks for many years. In 1994, Ban helped Rwandan refugees by building them shelters. In 2008, Ban travelled to Chengdu, Sichuan in China to help rebuild a temporary church. In a month, he and his students were able to build nine classrooms over 500 square meters. "It's still used, even after the current earthquake in China," he said.

He has also designed low-cost, sustainable shelters for those in Taiwan, Haiti, Turkey and Sri Lanka. Ban even helped to develop a shelter system after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011.

Ban is releasing a book about his work titled Shigeru Ban: Humanitarian Architecture in October 2014. The book will include photographs of his work, discussions on individual projects, and even instructional manuals. It's meant to shine light on the architect's dedication to both the environment and humanitarian work, and how those world's collide through his paper shelters.

You can learn more about Ban's work in the video below.