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:


Cardboard Cathedral

Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2013.

Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2013.

Credit: Stephen Goodenough



Hualin Temporary Elementary School

Hualin Temporary Elementary School, Chengdu, China, 2008.

Hualin Temporary Elementary School, Chengdu, China, 2008.

Credit: Li Jun



Kirinda House

Kirinda House, Sri Lanka, 2007.

Kirinda House, Sri Lanka, 2007.

Credit: Eresh Weerasuriya



Onagawa Container Temporary Housing

Onagawa Container Temporary Housing, Miyagi, Japan, 2011.

Onagawa Container Temporary Housing, Miyagi, Japan, 2011.

Credit: Hiroyuki Hirai



Paper Church

Takatori Paper Church, Kobe, Japan, 1995.

Takatori Paper Church, Kobe, Japan, 1995.

Credit: Hiroyuki Hirai



Paper Concert Hall L'Aquila

Paper Concert Hall, L'Aquila, Italy, 2011.

Paper Concert Hall, L'Aquila, Italy, 2011.

Credit: Fabio Mantovani



Paper Emergency Shelter for UNHCR

Paper Emergency Shelter for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Yumba refugee camp, Rwanda, 1999.

Paper Emergency Shelter for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Yumba refugee camp, Rwanda, 1999.

Credit: Shigeru Ban Architects



Paper Log House (India)

Paper Log House, India, 2001.

Paper Log House, India, 2001.

Credit: Kartiyeka Shodhan



Paper Log House (Japan)

Paper Log House, Kobe, Japan, 2005.

Paper Log House, Kobe, Japan, 2005.

Credit: Hiroyuki Hirai



Paper Log House (Turkey)

Paper Log House, Turkey, 2000.

Paper Log House, Turkey, 2000.

Credit: Shigeru Ban Architects



Paper Partition System

Paper Partition System, Japan, 2011.

Paper Partition System, Japan, 2011.

Credit: Voluntary Architects' Network



Paper Shelter

Paper Emergency Shelter, Haiti, 2010.

Paper Emergency Shelter, Haiti, 2010.

Credit: Shigeru Ban Architects