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.
When natural disasters like earthquakes, storms, and floods hit a region, there are many problems that rescue workers face. One of the biggest problems is providing a safe place to treat wounded citizens and provide shelter for those who have lost their homes. A new portable shelter may be able to alleviate some of the difficulty in bringing in short term shelters.
Argentinian architecture studio Proyecto 2M has developed a portable shelter called the Modularflex. The Modularflex can be packed flat for easy storage and delivery and can be built in just half an hour. The innovative design allows for the shelter to be assembled by two man teams or popped up by using a crane for even faster building time. The Modularflex also has a huge hinge that allows them to be collapsed like accordians.
The Proyecto 2M company states that their easy to assemble portable shelters are lightweight, flexible, and sturdy. When packed flat, six Modularflex shelters can be placed on the back of a truck for easy and efficient transportation to where they are needed. The walls of the Modularflex are made from insulated thermal panels similar to a supermarket cold storage room. They can withstand temperatures ranging from -20 degrees Celsius to 49 degrees Celsius.
The modular design of the shelter makes it possible to put multiple units together to create larger dwellings. Every Modularflex comes with electrical wiring and LED lighting. Different designs are available, such as camouflage for the military or marked with a red cross for humanitarian efforts.