Pritzker Prize winner and architect Shigeru Ban, best known for his cardboard tube buildings and humanitarian work, has recently announced that his firm and the relief organization Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN) will be helping to rebuild after Nepal's earthquake disasters, which has so far killed over 8,000 people, injured more than 19,000, and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
Ban, who has been building with recycled cardboard tubes for decades, is best known for his post-disaster relief work in Rwanda, Japan, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, China, Haiti, and New Zealand -- constructing low-cost but effective shelters, schools, community facilities and places of worship out of simple, locally-sourced materials, like cardboard, wood, metal and plastic. Much of it is designed to be easily assembled by a team of volunteers, and many of the structures will be crucial in the process of helping communities rebuild their lives. Watch Ban explain why paper tube architecture is effective in providing immediate relief after a disaster in this inspiring TED talk:
According to Architectural Record, Ban and VAN will first distribute and help construct simple tents on-site as temporary shelter for survivors and aid providers. Later on, they will team up with local universities, builders, architects and volunteers to create transitional homes and communal facilities, using paper tube prototypes that have proven successful in previous disasters. The goal is to build more permanent structures when conditions stabilize in Nepal, with a focus on buildings that will not only be functional, but resilient as well.
The emphasis on building for future resilience is key, as architectural aid charity director Robin Cross of Article 25 argues that it is poorly built buildings that kill people, not earthquakes. To break the cycle of death and impoverishment that comes with natural disasters, carefully planned, long-term reconstruction efforts must be hammered out to avoid a re-creating yet another "vulnerable built environment" where ad-hoc, chaotic and informal rebuilding strategies are used, once again endangering lives in a future disaster.
We'll be keeping an eye on rebuilding efforts in Nepal; in the meantime, if you would like to support VAN's endeavours, you can donate here.