Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban has mobilized his Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN) to aid victims of recent devastating floods in Southern Japan. At least 210 people have been killed by flooding and landslides which occurred last week, with a continuing heatwave further hampering recovery efforts.
Ban, along with members of the VAN and student volunteers, is constructing a partition system in evacuation centers made from paper tubes and cloth curtains. The temporary structures intend to offer privacy for flooding victims, forming a modular unit of 2 meters by 2 meters.
It is our mission as professional architects to make living environments better. We are just doing our job.
The systems are being constructed in evacuation centers across the affected area, including 100 units in the market town of Sonogashi, and 300 units in Hiroshima. Assembled in a matter of hours, the process involves drilling holes in the paper tube supports to create an interlocking frame, from which a cloth canvas is hung to create private 4-square-meter volumes.
The effort by Shigeru Ban Architects and VAN to offer support to victims follows on from similar acts in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake in Japan, where 1800 units were installed in 50 evacuation shelters, and the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake, where 2000 units were provided in 37 evacuation centers.
Ban has also taken his humanitarian cause further afield, traveling to Mexico following its devastating 2017 earthquake, where he visited affected areas and engaged with officials, architects, and students on potential collaborative relief projects. In the same year, he signed an agreement with UN-Habitat to design up to 20,000 homes for refugees in Kenya. In 2016, he traveled to Ecuador to aid disaster relief following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake which killed 650 people.