2014 Pritzker Prize-winner Shigeru Ban has announced plans to set up emergency shelters for earthquake victims in Nepal. Together with his humanitarian relief outfit, Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN), Ban will implement a three-phased project to provide housing and infrastructure for thousands of homeless victims.
Ban’s announcement came one week before a second 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on 12 May. Among the casualties of the first quake on 25 April was Matt Carapiet, a 23-year-old British architecture student who was a former architectural intern at Zaha Hadid Architects.
In the first phase of emergency response, VAN will deliver simple tents to build temporary housing and medical stations. In the absence of walls, plastic sheets donated by contractors will serve as vertical partitions. Volunteers will work alongside the locals, students and architects to help those affected assemble the tents on-site.
The second phase will involve constructing temporary structures using local materials available in Nepal. During this phase, the organisation will help build different types of transitional housing and community facilities.
As conditions in Nepal begin to stabilise, the third phase will focus on long-term disaster recovery and the provision of permanent housing for people in need. The organisation expects to start building permanent structures in the coming months, based on prototypes that Ban’s firm has developed in other emergency situations.
Based in Japan, Shigeru Ban has been designing emergency structures since the early 1990s. His first emergency shelters were in Rwanda after civil unrest and genocide devastated the country, and in Kobe, Japan, after it suffered a major earthquake. Since then Ban has built emergency shelters all over the world using simple materials like corrugated plastic and paper tubes.
Shigeru Ban Cardboard Cathedral. Christchurch.
After the 2011 earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, Ban built a transitional ‘cardboard’ cathedral made out of cardboard tubes, supported by a steel and timber frame. Built with a lifespan of 20 years, Ban’s cathedral replaced a landmark parish building that had been demolished in the quake.