Saturday, June 4, 2011

Shigeru Ban's Partitions

Shigeru Ban is a remarkable architect. A very accomplished designer, he has authored the so-called Swatch Building in Tokyo, the Pompidou Center in Metz and the soon-to-finish Metal Shutter Building in New York. However, when disaster strikes, Ban drops everything and heads to the site to see how he can help. Championing the overlooked and the under served, Ban always ferrets out groups of people whose needs are not being met by government initiatives.

After the earthquake and tsunami toppled a good portion of Tohoku, Ban made a beeline for the blighted area and immediately assessed how he could help. Quick to spring into action, he turned his attention to the needs of displaced persons bedding down in gymnasia and other large rooms throughout the region. Though they had shelter and food, there was a palpable dearth of privacy. To ease this problem, Ban resurrected a scheme for partitions made of paper tubes that started out as a project with his students a couple years ago.

Earlier this week, I had the chance to see his paper tube partitions on display at the Interiors and Lifestyle Fair at Tokyo Big Sight. A simple assembly of tubes and tape, each unit is able to encircle an individual space with cloth curtains that provide a modicum of privacy. Ban told me recently that he is about to trot out a summer version made of mosquito netting.
Here is the link to my article about Ban's partitions published by Architectural Record in April:

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