Resourcefulness is key to Shigeru Ban's practice. He's well known for finding structural uses for fugitive materials, including paper and cardboard. And he takes the same spirit of ingenuity to planning and designing disaster-relief housing. Several disaster-relief projects by Ban, Hon. FAIA, came in for specific citations from the jury that awarded him the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize.
The most recent of these, the Cardboard Cathedral, built in 2013, gave the community of Christchurch, New Zealand, a new symbol of strength following the 2011 earthquake that destroyed the city's beloved 19th-century Anglican church. Other disasters have called for Shigeru Ban Architects to provide immediate housing for victims. The Paper Log House relief projects, designed for Japan, Turkey, and India—following earthquakes in 1995, 1999, and 2001, respectively—make use of water-resistant paper tubes. Ban's designs for these disaster-relief projects also employed such materials as beer crates, area timber, and even rubble to provide immediate shelter for victims.
Paper isn't the only material Ban uses for disaster-relief projects; in Onagawa, Japan, for example, the architect used shipping containers to house victims of the 2011 earthquake living in an area without much flat land. Sometimes, Ban's materials can be as simple as a gesture: Using paper tubes and canvas, Ban partitioned the area inside evacuation facilities where victims of the 2011 earthquake in Japan sought shelter—providing a sense of stability and shelter in a time of great need.
A sample of 12 of Ban's most noteworthy disaster-relief projects follows: