Renowned Japanese architect to design shelters for refugee camp

Renowned architect Shigeru Ban is partnering with UN-Habitat to design shelter for residents of a refugee camp in northern Kenya. Ban has pioneered the use of recycled cardboard tubes to quickly and efficiently house disaster victims.

Under a partnership with the Voluntary Architects Network (VAN) the award-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban will develop potential shelter designs for residents of the Kalobeiyei refugee camp based on their socio-economic needs and available data from UN-Habitat.

VAN and UN-Habitat will also hold design workshops with the community and develop 20 shelter design models, writes UN-Habitat in a statement announcing the partnership.

Shigeru Ban is a celebrated architect known for his innovative work with paper and recycled cardboard tubes. His paper log cabins were used to provide shelter to people displaced by earthquakes in Kobe, Japan in 1995 and in Kaynasli, Turkey in 1999. His designs have also been used for churches, mostly famously in Christchurch, New Zealand after the devastating earthquake of 2011.

Ban received the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2014 in recognition of “the dedication of his architecture skills and creativity to humanitarian aid”. His architecture is often called sustainable and environmentally friendly and the materials used are locally available and inexpensive. They are also easy to transport, mount and dismantle, and can be water- and fire-proofed as well as recycled.

Ban is also highly regarded for his private commissions. For the Swiss media company Tamedia, he designed a seven-storey headquarters with the main structural system entirely in timber. The wooden beams interlock, requiring no metal joints.

UN-Habitat has been working in northern Kenya since 2015 in a joint project with the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR to provide urban planning expertise to humanitarian shelter provision. The project is funded by the government of Japan.


Image credit: World Economic Forum, flickr/Creative Commons

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