Shigeru Ban has been a pioneer in developing shelter for earthquake victims since the Kobe, Japan temblor in 1995. After the 2009 quake in Sichuan, China where thousands of schools were flattened due to shoddy construction, killing many children. Ban arrived in China with a proposal to prevent such a thing from ever happening again.
I discovered the work of Shigeru Ban nearly 10 years ago when I was researching techniques for making cardboard furniture (we'll leave that for another post). His pioneering work in paper tube structures fascinated me. You would think that a paper tube structure would be a very temporary one, but in the instance of the church he built in Kobe, Japan, it stood for 10 years until it was dismantled and the pieces sent to a city in Taiwan for reconstruction.
Zhu Tao, one of the Chinese architect's behind Retumu, the non-governmental design and rebuilding initiative that sponsored Ban's project, insisted that, "designs like paper tube house help to highlight the importance of planting sustainable roots." Tao urges the balance between quality and quantity, while always holding safety in the highest regard from the beginning, is integral to architecture. Ban's work exemplifies these qualities.
Tao goes on to say that most temporary buildings and shelters "are always reminding you you're living in a disaster zone," the students using the buildings, he said, love the spaces, and "love to hang on little columns like monkeys."