Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2022

Refugee shelters and Ukrainian architecture

by Mui Ho

Russia's attack on Ukraine has destroyed cities, monuments and historic sites on top of forcing more than 4 million citizens, women and children, to flee the country the largest movement of refugees since WW2.

There is no easy answer to this catastrophe, but the efforts of many people, including architects, are helping to lessen the suffering. I was inspired by the temporary shelters designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban in Poland for Ukraine refugees. They are simple and light weight and easily erected. The best part is that the structure does not require anchoring onto the the existing building, neither on the floor nor the wall.

I had followed Shigeru Ban's work for years and totally inspired by his concept of building with light weight materials like bamboo, paper, fabric and tubings. His Japan Pavilion for Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany with Atelier Frei Otto Warmbronn was spectacular. His use of paper tubing inspired us to rethink about the making of architecture. I regret not visited The Museum of Modern Art in NYC in year 2000 when he installed the paper arch.

JAIA Architect: Shigeru Ban Architects

Japan Pavilion, Hannover Expo 2000

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