After twin earthquakes in April and May claimed 9,000 lives and left vast swathes of Nepal in ruins, survivors worried if they reused the brick rubble, they would end up with the same vulnerable, seismically unsound structures.
Renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban – who helped bring global attention to humanitarian architecture and continues to influence fellow architects and disaster-relief workers – devised a solution.
“Each disaster is different, so I have to go there to find out the particular problems to solve,” said 58-year-old Ban, who built paper emergency shelters in Haiti after the 2010 quake and the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan two years ago.
The prototype for his latest humanitarian housing project in Nepal consists of standard timber door frames joined together and reinforced with plywood. The frames are filled in with brick rubble, and the roof is covered with a plastic sheet and thatched for insulation.