‘Cardboard’ Architect Wins Substantial Prize

ARTS

Architecture generally involves creating monuments from materials like steel, stone, and concrete. Yet this year, the discipline’s top award is going to a man who is best known for making temporary shelters out of paper tubes, largely for victims of natural hazards. (New York Times)

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One of Shigeru Ban's most well-known works is the "Cardboard Cathedral" in Christchurch, New Zealand. The city's 100-year old cathedral was severely damaged by an earthquake in 2011, and Ban's gorgeous temporary structure is a community and spiritual center serving the area while the permanent church is being completed. Photograph by Jocelyn Kinghorn, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

One of Shigeru Ban’s most well-known works is the “Cardboard Cathedral” in Christchurch, New Zealand. The city’s 100-year old cathedral was severely damaged by an earthquake in 2011, and Ban’s gorgeous temporary structure is a community and spiritual center serving the area while the permanent church is being completed.
Photograph by Jocelyn Kinghorn, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The Cardboard Cathedral is made mostly of waterproof and flame-retardant cardboard tubing, timber, and steel. The A-frame structure also has triangles of decorated stained glass. Photograph by Jocelyn Kinghorn, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The Cardboard Cathedral is made mostly of waterproof and flame-retardant cardboard tubing, timber, and steel. The A-frame structure also has triangles of decorated stained glass.
Photograph by Jocelyn Kinghorn, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Discussion Ideas

 

  • Look through Shigeru Ban’s disaster relief projects. What do you think Ban and his team of architects and engineers had to consider when constructing these projects from material such as cardboard?
    • cost—structures are usually pro-bono (meaning Ban does not make a profit) or paid for by the government. The cost for a 52-square-meter “paper log house” is less than $2,000.
    • strength (Ban used industrial-strength cardboard tubing, which can withstand many kilograms of pressure, and often reinforces the tubes with timber or metal. This can withstand winds, construction, and roomfuls of rowdy students!)
    • water-resistance (Ban laminates most of his cardboard tubing)
    • fire-resistance (Ban uses industrial fire-retardant)
    • termite-resistance!
    • quick construction (Ban uses materials, such as cardboard and shipping containers, that can be easily transported, constructed, and modified for use)
    • easy modification for connecting to an electrical grid, water system, and other infrastructure
    • reasonable, comfortable living space in a contained area—Ban’s lovely shipping-container shelters for Japanese quake victims is testament to this: “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.”
    • landscape—take a look at Ban’s elevated housing, built to withstand floods and storms, constructed for post-Katrina New Orleans. (Yes, that’s Brad Pitt with Ban.)
    • culture—in an Islamic region of Sri Lanka, for instance, Ban had to construct housing that allowed “women to avoid seeing their guests in person.” In Turkey, Ban and his team adapted cardboard shelters originally designed for Japanese use to respect Turkey’s larger timber size—and the fact that most Turkish families have more members than Japanese families. In India, Ban’s team used local materials, such as cane, in the structure.

One response to “‘Cardboard’ Architect Wins Substantial Prize

  1. I haven’t been inside, but it’s quite beautiful from the outside. And it was interesting to see them put up the structure. Lovely :)

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