Shigeru Ban builds homes from rubble left by Nepal’s earthquakes

Architect and humanitarian Shigeru Ban has constructed homes partially from the rubble of buildings which were destroyed during the two earthquakes in Nepal earlier this year.

The tremors in April and May claimed 9,000 lives and left vast swathes of the country in ruins, and when rebuilding started survivors worried if they reused the brick rubble, they would end up with the same vulnerable structures.

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 the 58-year-old.

The prototype 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.

The resulting structure is strong enough to meet international stringent earthquake standards.

Ban said: “I’m hoping people will copy my design. If we make 20, some other NGO might make more.
I’m encouraging people to copy my ideas.
“No copyrights,” Ban said, noting he always tries to enlist the help of his houses’ future inhabitants.

“If they’re involved in the construction, if the structure needs maintenance, they will know how to do it themselves.”

Ban, who in 2014 won the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s top award, has also built shelters for Rwandan refugees in 1994, Sri Lankan survivors of the 2004 tsunami, and victims of major disasters in Japan.