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Onagawa Container Temporary Housing

Shigeru Ban Architects

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dmadsen, hanley wood, llc

Project Name

Onagawa Container Temporary Housing

Project Status


Year Completed


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Project Description


Since the 3.11 earthquake, we have visited more than 50 evacuation facilities and installed over 1800 units (2mx2m) of our Paper Partition System, to ensure privacy between families. During that time, I heard the news that the town of Onagawa was having difficulty to construct enough temporary housing due to the insufficient amount of flat land. Therefore, we decided to propose three-story temporary housing made from shipping containers. By stacking these containers in a checkerboard pattern, our system creates bright, open living spaces in between the containers. The standard temporary houses issued by the government are poorly made, and there is not enough storage space. We installed built-in closets and shelves in all of our houses with the help of volunteers and with the donation fund. It will become a breakthrough and precedent to new government standards of evacuation facilities and temporary housing.
Temporary housing are starting to be deployed disaster areas. However, the number of the amount of housing required is insufficient. The main reason is that most of the damaged coast areas are not on level terrain.
Usually, temporary housing is suitable for flatlands, and providing the required number of units is difficult.
Our project to Onagawa, Miyagi prefecture is to use existing shipping containers (20 feet) and stack them in a checkerboard pattern up to three stories.
・Shorten the construction period by usage of existing containers
・Wide interval can provide parking area, community facility and privacy of families
・Placing containers in a checkerboard pattern and create a open living space in between
・Excellent seismic performance
・Can be used as a permanent apartment.

For more information about Shigeru Ban's 2014 Pritzker Prize, please read
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