Shigeru Ban has been creating buildings out of recycled paper since 1986. He has built shelters and buildings, some permanent, completely out of paper all over the world. His DIY paper shelters are used after natural disasters around the globe.
Shigeru first started experimenting with his paper tube structures after he finished studying at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and Cooper Union’s School of Architecture in 1984. The paper tubes he uses to create his portable shelters are the same ones found in textile factories. Shigeru found that the tubes were much stronger than he imagined and were very easy to waterproof and fireproof. The paper tubes were low-cost and reliable, making them the perfect material for his architectural ideas.
At first Shigeru’s designs came in more of an art form. He created magnificient buildings out of the paper tubes that people would flock to see. He built a church, homes, and even built himself a paper office because he could not afford to rent one. Many of his structures were meant to be recycled, but became permanent fixtures because of their popularity. His focus shifted when he saw that his design could be used for emergency shelters in disaster situations.
Shigeru’s emergency shelters were first used in 1994 for refugees in Rwanda. The next year, after an earthquake in Japan, he used his paper materials to rebuild a local church that became a local fixture for 10 years.