Fourth-grader Serina Hamada stands on the balcony of Shigeru Ban's three-story temporary housing complex in Miyagi. Photo via The Japan Times.
Last month we explored the work of architect Shigeru Ban, whose work ranges from installing paper tube and curtain partitions in Japan’s gymnasiums, creating personal space for earthquake evacuees, to building an iconic new bastion of fine art for the Centre Pompidou in far out Metz, France. Renowned for his dedication to elegant sustainable design and his championing of the “permanence of impermanence,” Ban has come to the fore not only as a successful architect but also as a pioneering humanitarian. Earlier this week, Ban’s two- and three-story quakeproof freight container settlements were completed in Miyagi, one of the three Tohoku region prefectures hit the hardest by the earthquake and tsunami in March.
The stacked, multistory complexes are staggered with gaps in between the individual units so as to curb noise disturbance. The modular interiors are clean and compact, equipped with wooden furniture and plenty of storage space, and the facades are enlivened with bright colors to offer a more cheery and welcoming environment, one that resists the dismal character often associated with relief housing. Ban even included balconies on the upper floors, offering occupants a greater variety of spaces within their temporary homes.
As of Sunday, people have started moving into the final six buildings to be completed in the ballpark, as The Japan Times reports. Though we have seen many instances of shipping containers creatively readapted as architecture, Ban’s housing solution seems to stem from core principles of Japanese design. His noble housing project works within tight environmental and material constraints and yet also, by a seeming miracle, manages to extract an understated elegance that speaks intuitively to a human’s wants and needs.
[Photos courtesy the architect and via Inhabitat]