Public spaces play a significant role in organizing the life of every community but defining what differentiates them from other spaces within the city is not an easy task. Once these spaces start to settle into the collective memory of the local communities, they become key elements that concentrate the mental image of a city. While this process usually happens with urban spaces, monuments and isolated architectural elements can also become markers for the urban life of an area. So, what happens when dramatic events like fires, war, or even the pandemic alter that image?
Emergency Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News
The war in Ukraine continues, and the number of refugees has risen to 5million, according to the U.N. Renowned for his involvement in humanitarian aid, Shigeru Ban and the Voluntary Architects' Network have been deploying a paper partition system (PPS) for emergency shelters in Ukraine and neighbouring countries, designed to provide some privacy to the Ukrainian refugees. Since early March, PPS has been installed in Poland, Slovakia, France, and Ukraine by Shigeru Ban Architects and VAN, collaborating with local architects and volunteer students.
The concepts of autonomy, collaboration, and participation have gained relevance in architecture and urbanism through collaborative actions involving the community, architects, urban planners, and designers. As the number of climate disasters has significantly increased - doubling in the last 40 years according to a report released in 2016 by CRED (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters) - in addition to conflicts and other tragedies, the demand for the rebuilding of houses and infrastructure in affected areas has grown simultaneously. This has called for a major collaborative effort in architectural and urban reconstruction.
Emergencies include a variety of contemporary scenarios ranging from natural disasters to extreme poverty or isolation due to social and political conflicts. In all cases, the disruption of normality and the requirement of basic needs for maintaining a decent quality of life become the basis for finding quick and efficient alternatives to respond to this type of urgency.
New York City is the pinnacle hybrid between the vibrant and granular neighborhoods that Jane Jacobs once envisioned and the sweeping urban innovations of Robert Moses. However, its diverse population has experienced hardship over the last twenty years, forcing the city into a recursive wave of self-reflection to reevaluate the urban strategies, design trends, and global transportation methods that it had grown so accustomed to. After the September 11th and Hurricane Sandy tragedies, the delicate balance between promoting a sense of individual culture and the strength in unity that New Yorkers are so often known for served as the lifeblood for revitalization. New York City has consistently handled adversity, by always rethinking, redesigning, and rebuilding this city for a better future.
2014 Pritzker Laureate Shigeru Ban may be as well known for his innovative use of materials as for his compassionate approach to design. For a little over three decades, Ban, the founder of the Voluntary Architects Network, has applied his extensive knowledge of recyclable materials, particularly paper and cardboard, to constructing high-quality, low-cost shelters for victims of disaster across the world —from Rwanda to Haiti, to Turkey, Japan, and more. We've rounded up 10 projects of his humanitarian work, explained by Shigeru Ban Architects themselves.