Emergency shelters made from paper: Shigeru Ban at TEDxTokyo

Emergency shelters made from paper: Shigeru Ban at TEDxTokyo


Translator: Akinori Oyama
Reviewer: Emma Gon Hi. I am an architect. I am the only architect in the world making buildings out of paper
like this cardboard tube, and this exhibition is the first one
I did using paper tubes. 1986, much, much longer
before people started talking about ecological issues
and environmental issues, I just started testing the paper tube in order to use this
as a building structure. It’s very complicated to test
the new material for the building, but this is much stronger
than I expected, and also it’s very easy to waterproof. Because it’s industrial material, it’s also possible to fireproof. Then I built
the temporary structure, 1990. This is the first temporary building
made out of paper. There are 330 tubes,
diameter 55 [centimeters], there are only 12 tubes with a diameter of 120 centimeters, or four feet, wide. As you see it in the photo,
inside is the toilet. In case you’re finished
with toilet paper, you can tear off the inside of the wall.
(Laughter) So it’s very useful. Year 2000,
there was a big expo in Germany. I was asked to design the building, because the theme of the expo
was environmental issues. So I was chosen to build
the pavilion out of paper tubes, recyclable paper. My goal of the design
is not when it’s completed. My goal was when the building
was demolished, because each country
makes a lot of pavilions but after half a year,
we create a lot of industrial waste, so my building has to be
reused or recycled. After, the building was recycled. So that was the goal of my design. Then I was very lucky
to win the competition to build the second Pompidou Center
in France in the city of Metz. Because I was so poor,
I wanted to rent an office in Paris, but I couldn’t afford it, so I decided
to bring my students to Paris to build our office on top
of the Pompidou Center in Paris by ourselves.
(Laughter) So we brought the paper tubes
and the wooden joints to complete the 35-meter-long office. We stayed there for six years
without paying any rent. (Laughter) (Applause) Thank you.
I had one big problem. Because we were part of the exhibition, even if my friend wanted to see me,
they had to buy a ticket to see me. (Laughter)
That was the problem. Then I completed
the Pompidou Center in Metz. It’s a very popular museum now, and I created a big monument
for the government. But then I was very disappointed at my profession as an architect, because we are not helping,
we are not working for society, but we are working
for privileged people, rich people, government, developers. They have money and power. Those are invisible. So they hire us to visualize
their power and money by making monumental architecture. That is our profession,
even historically it’s the same, even now we are doing the same. So I was very disappointed
that we are not working for society, even though there are so many people who lost their houses
by natural disasters. But I must say they are
no longer natural disasters. For example, earthquakes
never kill people, but collapse of
the buildings kills people. That’s the responsibility of architects. Then people need some temporary housing, but there are no architects working there because we are too busy
working for privileged people. So I thought, even as architects, we can be involved in the reconstruction
of temporary housing. We can make it better. So that is why I started
working in disaster areas. 1994, there was
a big disaster in Rwanda, Africa. Two tribes, Hutu and Tutsi,
fought each other. Over two million people
became refugees. But I was so surprised to see
the shelter, refugee camp organized by the U.N. They’re so poor, and they are freezing with blankets during the rainy season. In the shelters built by the U.N., they were just providing a plastic sheet, and the refugees had to cut the trees,
and just like this. But over two million people cut trees. It just became big, heavy deforestation and an environmental problem. That is why they started providing
aluminum pipes, aluminum barracks. Very expensive,
they sold them out for money, then cutting trees again. So I proposed my idea
to improve the situation using these recycled paper tubes because this is so cheap
and also so strong, but my budget is only
50 U.S. dollars per unit. We built 50 units to do that
as a monitoring test for the durability and moisture
and termites and so on. And then, a year afterward
1995 in Kobe, Japan, we had a big earthquake. Nearly 7000 people were killed, and the city like this Nagata district, all the city was burned
in a fire after the earthquake. And also I found out
there’s many Vietnamese refugees suffering and gathering
at a Catholic church — all the buildings were totally destroyed. So I went there and also
I proposed to the priests, “Why don’t we rebuild
the church out of paper tubes?” And he said,
“Oh God, are you crazy? After a fire, what are you proposing?” So he never trusted me,
but I didn’t give up. I started commuting to Kobe, and I met the society
of Vietnamese people. They were living like this with
very poor plastic sheets in the park. So I proposed to rebuild.
I did fundraising. I made a paper tube shelter for them, and in order to make it easy to be built by students
and also easy to demolish, I used beer crates as a foundation. I asked the Kirin beer
company to propose, because at that time,
the Asahi beer company made their plastic beer crates red, which doesn’t go with
the color of the paper tubes. The color coordination
is very important. And also I still remember,
we were expecting to have a beer inside
the plastic beer crate, but it came empty.
(Laughter) So I remember
it was so disappointing. So during the summer
with my students, we built over 50 units of the shelters. Finally the priest, finally
he trusted me to rebuild. He said, “As long as
you collect money by yourself, bring your students
to build, you can do it.” So we spent five weeks
rebuilding the church. It was meant to stay there
for three years, but actually it stayed there
10 years because people loved it. Then, in Taiwan,
they had a big earthquake, and we were proposed
to donate this church, so we dismantled them, we sent them over
to be built by volunteer people. It stayed there in Taiwan
as a permanent church even now. So this building became
a permanent building. Then I wonder, what is a permanent
and what is a temporary building? Even a building made in paper can be permanent
as long as people love it. Even a building made of concrete can easily collapse by an earthquake. If a building is built by a developer
in order to make money, other developers buy the land,
they destroy it and put a new one. So, it’s very temporary. So, that is a difference. If a building is built even in paper,
if people love it, it becomes permanent. Even a concrete building
can be very temporary, if that is made to make money. In 1999, in Turkey,
there’s the big earthquake, I went there to use the local material
to build a shelter. 2001, in West India,
I also built a shelter. In 2004, in Sri Lanka, after
the Sumatra earthquake and tsunami, I rebuilt Islamic fishermen’s villages. And in 2008, in Chengdu,
Sichuan area in China, nearly 70 000 people were killed, and also especially
many of the schools were destroyed because of the corruption between
the authority and the contractor. I was asked to rebuild
the temporary [school]. I brought my Japanese students
to work with the Chinese students. In one month, we completed 9 classrooms
over 500 square meters. It’s still used, even after
the current earthquake in China. In 2009, in Italy, L’Aquila,
also they had a big earthquake. And this is a very interesting photo: former Prime Minister Berlusconi and Japanese former former
former former Prime Minister Mr. Aso – you know, because we have to change
the prime minister ever year. (Laughter) And they are very kind,
holding my model. I proposed a big rebuilding,
a temporary music hall, because L’Aquila is very famous for music and all the concert halls were destroyed,
so musicians were moving out. So I proposed to the mayor, I’d like to rebuild
the temporary auditorium. He said, “As long as you bring
your money, you can do it.” And I was very lucky. Mr. Berlusconi brought G8 summit, and our former prime minister came, so they helped us to collect money, and I got half a million euros
from the Japanese government to rebuild this temporary auditorium. I have to remember every year
there is an earthquake somewhere. Year 2010 in Haiti,
there was a big earthquake, but it’s impossible to fly over, so I went to Santo Domingo,
next-door country, to drive six hours to get to Haiti with the local students
in Santo Domingo to build 50 units of shelter
out of local paper tubes. This is what happened in Japan
two years ago, in northern Japan. After the earthquake and tsunami, people had to be evacuated
in a big room like a gymnasium. But look at this.
There’s no privacy. People suffer mentally and physically. So we went there to build partitions with all the student volunteers
with paper tubes, just a very simple shelter
out of the tube frame and the curtain. However, some of the facility authority doesn’t want us to do it,
because, they said, simply, it’s become
more difficult to control them. But it’s really necessary to do it. Then, also it was the fact over 500 kilometer coast line
was damaged by tsunami. They don’t have
enough flat area to build standard government
single-story housing like this one. Look at this.
Even civil government is doing such poor construction
of the temporary housing, so dense and so messy because there is no storage,
nothing, water is leaking, so I thought, we have to make
multi-story building because there’s no land
and also it’s not very comfortable. So I proposed to the mayor
while I was making partitions. Finally I met a very nice mayor
in Onagawa village in Miyagi. He asked me to build
three-story housing on baseball [fields]. I used the shipping container and also the students
helped us to make all the building furniture to make them comfortable, within the budget of the government but also the area of the house
is exactly the same, but much more comfortable. Many of the people
want to stay here forever. I was very happy to hear that. Now I am working
in New Zealand, Christchurch. About 20 days before the Japanese
earthquake happened, also they had a big earthquake, and many Japanese students
were also killed, and the most important
cathedral of the city, the symbol of Christchurch,
was totally destroyed. And I was asked to come
to rebuild the temporary cathedral. So this is under construction. And I’d like to keep
building the monuments that are beloved by people. Thank you very much. (Applause) Thank you.
(Applause) Thank you very much.
(Applause)

28 thoughts on “Emergency shelters made from paper: Shigeru Ban at TEDxTokyo

  1. good work! Intelligent man, Perceptive. funny, ..This man can help me save the whole world! i wish i could speak with him. i promote perfect villages and they need to be built fast using a very similar way. Giant tubes covered in concrete used as apartment in a superstructure that repeats a pattern. this man  has what i need..together we can do something beyond all other works before.

  2. so of course the Pritzker winner whose career has been devoted to helping people in need wasn't gonna be white xD

    He's inspiring.

  3. i want to be part of his team 🙂 very inspiring that he is helping and giving a good service to humanity.. 🙂 god bless

  4. As a civil engineer, Im mesmerized by the idea great job! but I cant help but thing what happens to those kinda of materials when exposed to Accidental Forces such as Wind and Earthquakes?, does it compromise the integrity of the structure? , who test those materials for later use?

  5. Wonderful. Use the concrete buildings for emergency shelters and paper ones for permament ! Must be about 1/1,000 the cost ! And people love them ! Great man !

  6. Thank you for this video! Other view to the architect profession, and global problems vs. local priorities
    We all know, that Earth is overpopulated, but not that many ppl wants to look at the hole situation, even less want to do anything about it! It is important to get your eyes of the screen and your one person, and think what can you do for others or maybe start with your own: see how many things do you really need for everyday use and how much do you waist and what can you fix, reuse or recycle.

  7. People should have thought of local talents before resorting to foreign in doing every. although this may be counterproductive to cross border trade.

  8. Great Mr Architect.. please you have to come to Syria's border and do something similar for the refugees over there .. refugees not because of earthquake but because of sever war .. thank you

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