Japan's Shigeru Ban is a bone-fide starchitect best known for using his considerable talents to design temporary low-cost emergency housing using materials like beer crates and cardboard tubes. Two of his innovative shelters, plus other works, are currently on display in Sydney's Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) art gallery.

The exhibit, named The inventive work of Shigeru Ban, is the Pritzker Prize-winning architect's first project in Australia and includes a scale model of his Christchurch cathedral built using cardboard, the pavilion he built for Japan during Expo 2000, and two full-scale emergency shelters.

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"Architects mostly work for privileged people, people who have money and power," explains Ban in a press release. "Power and money are invisible, so people hire us to visualize their power and money by making monumental architecture. I love to make monuments, too, but I thought perhaps we can use our experience and knowledge more for the general public, even for those who have lost their houses in natural disasters."

This shelter dates back to 1995 and was one of Ban's earliest emergency housing designs. It was conceived following a very destructive earthquake in Kobe, Japan, also known as the Great Hanshin earthquake.

Highlighting the architect's flair for using cheap and readily-available materials, the foundations consist of donated beer crates loaded with sandbags.The walls comprise cardboard tubes and fabric tenting material was used on the roof. Insulation comes in the form of waterproof sponge pushed between the paper tubes.

The shelter measures 351.5 x 461.2 x 461.2 cm (138 x 181 x 181 in) and costs around US$2,000 to build. It can be easily dismantled and recycled when no longer required.

This model was built following a severe earthquake in Ecuador, in 2016, that resulted in many deaths and even more displaced people. Ban visited two weeks later and met with locals, inspecting their improvised shelters and the modest accommodation they had. He based the shelter's design on a previous model originally made for the Philippines, but with some upgrades and materials better suited to Ecuador.

Measuring 380 x 525 x 328.5 cm (149 x 206 x 129 in), the shelter consists of more beer crate and sandbag foundations, but is clad in bamboo, not cardboard, and sports a thatched roof. Tarpaulin, steel wire, hinges and rope were used, too. The temporary shelter also costs around $2,000 to build and can be easily recycled, and the project also involved building separate toilet units.

You can check out some of the other designs on show in the gallery, or if you'd like to check them out in person, The inventive work of Shigeru Ban is running at SCAF until July 1.

Sources: SCAF, Shigeru Ban Architects

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