An Architect’s Simple Solution for Japanese Disaster Survivors

It’s impossible to watch the news these days and not be affected by the horrifying disasters that have hit Japan, and are still unfolding. We were interested to see the very innovative response from acclaimed Japanese architect Shigeru Ban.

He’s famous for using paper to build extremely sturdy buildings that are also inexpensive to erect. The paper is rolled into logs that are extremely sturdy, yet inexpensive to make, and can easily be recycled when (or if) the building is disassembled. He’s applied this concept to help shelter victims of natural disaster around the world and to create inexpensive. His first such project was designing shelters for the victims of the Kobe Earthquake in 1995.

In a recent interview in the New York Times Ban said that in the current Japanese disaster, he’s creating simple partitions to provide some privacy for survivors who are staying in emergency shelters.

Apparently, the “walls” are frames made of his famous paper rolls, with white curtains hanging in between. Ban’s website has a descriptions and photos of the partitions and some discussion of the design process (in Japanese and English).

Ban's partitions need no wooden joints or braces.
The partitions are very easy to assemble.
Once assembled the occupant has a very real sense of privacy and safety

A bank account has been set up in Japan specifically for donations to help fund creation of these partitions. Here’s the information from Ban’s website:

Donations made to the following account are very much appreciated.

Bank:                The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.
Branch:             Higashi Matsubara Branch
Account Name:   Voluntary Architects Network
Account No.:       3636723 (Futsuu)
Swift Code:         BOTKJPJT
Bank Address:     5-2-18 Matsubara, Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan

IBAN code is not necessary for transactions from overseas.

Along with your contribution, please send us your contact information to our e-mail ( ) or FAX (+81 3 3324 6789) for updates about this project.

You can also make a donation to a general fund for Japanese disaster relief at the American Red Cross website.