Humanitarian architect reconstructs the rubble of Nepal’s tremor into relief housing

By Maria Kyriacou

Humanitarian architect reconstructs the rubble of Nepal’s tremor into relief housing
Following on from his "Cardboard Cathedral" in Christchurch, Shigeru Ban is lending a hand to earthquake devastated Nepal

Combining his professional talents with his humanitarian passion, award-winning architect Shigeru Ban founded the design-centric relief organisation Voluntary Architects Network (VAN). 

Ban who was awarded the 2014 Pritzker Laureate, is famous for his signature building materials – cardboard and plastic tubes. He has ingeniously used these recycled products to create pop-up pavilions, schools, community centres and to restore the beautiful Christchurch cathedral destroyed by the earthquake. 


Cathedral in Christchurch devastated by earthquake Image: Shigeru Ban Architects
Cardboard Cathedral – After Image: Shigeru Ban Architects


Now, VAN has rebuilding Nepal in his sights, using the plentiful bricks left over from the ruins of April’s earthquake. The disaster was responsible for the deaths of over 8,000 people and left many homeless.

VAN will join forces with local Nepalese architects and university students to design and build durable, inexpensive transitional housing for those who had their homes destroyed by the devastating tremor. 

The easy-to-build structures are also a quick option to the housing issues facing a nation struggling to rebuild itself. Ban’s website states,

“This system can be assembled by connecting modular wooden frames, infilling with rubble bricks. This simple construction method enables anyone to assemble the wooden frames very quickly and if a roof (a truss made of local paper tubes) is secured on top, and the wooden structure covered with a plastic sheet, people can immediately begin to inhabit the shelters. Afterwards, people can stack the rubble bricks inside the wooden frames and slowly complete the construction themselves.”

Bricks being a traditional avenue to building may not usually feature in Ban’s repertoire, but the clever recycling of remnants certainly is. The first prototype is to be constructed by end of August.



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