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Can You Build a House Out of Paper? Shigeru Ban Says Yes.

Can You Build a House Out of Paper? Shigeru Ban Says Yes.


At the architect Philip Johnson’s former property in New Canaan, Conn., there has lengthy been a Glass House and a Brick House. Now there’s additionally a Paper House.

The Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban’s Paper Log House, to be actual.

An exhibition of this straightforward, low-cost construction — designed in 1995 to accommodate victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe, Japan — opens this week and runs via Dec. 15, as a part of actions marking the seventy fifth anniversary of the Glass House, which Johnson accomplished in 1949. (The Brick House, additionally accomplished in 1949, is scheduled to reopen following restoration work on May 2.)

It’s a small home, to make sure — only one room — and it’s made largely of paper, nevertheless it’s extra resilient than it seems to be.

The home, which was assembled by Cooper Union college students, is an up to date model of the shelter designed for Kobe: The basis is product of milk crates, quite than reclaimed Japanese beer crates crammed with sandbags. The partitions are vertical paper tubes — like these used for mailing paperwork or spooling carpet — held along with foam tape and threaded rods; the roof is comprised of extra paper tubes mounted with plywood connectors.

Those tubes and their shocking energy are a longstanding fascination for Mr. Ban. Since he graduated from the Cooper Union in New York and began his structure observe in Tokyo in 1985, he has designed paper-tube houses, bridges, church buildings, workplaces and exhibition pavilions, momentary and everlasting, in addition to an unlimited arch that coated the Museum of Modern Art’s sculpture backyard in 2000.

And, in fact, quite a few emergency buildings: His paper-tube houses have been utilized in Rwanda, Turkey, India, Haiti, China and New Zealand. More lately, he has labored on shelters for many who misplaced their houses within the Maui wildfires and the earthquakes on the Noto Peninsula of Japan.

The paper tube, Mr. Ban mentioned, is right for constructing in catastrophe conditions as a result of “it’s light-weight, it’s cheap and it’s accessible nearly anyplace on the planet.”

The thought for the present challenge got here collectively final fall, when Mr. Ban’s accomplice and former classmate Dean Maltz took him to the Glass House for a tour with the property’s government director, Kirsten Reoch.

“I discussed to Kirsten, ‘Wouldn’t or not it’s good, with the Glass House and the Brick House, to have a paper home?’” Mr. Maltz recalled. “And I may simply see lightbulbs.”

D.I.Y.-ers who go to with the thought of constructing their very own yard paper-tube homes ought to understand it’s not as straightforward because it seems to be.

The 39 college students who assembled the construction, with supervision from Mr. Maltz and Cooper Union teacher Samuel Anderson, have been shocked at how difficult it was — even with easy supplies and an Ikea-like instruction handbook. Meztli Castro Asmussen, 22, who volunteered for the challenge, mentioned college students had to make use of a CNC machine to chop the plywood connectors, along with troubleshooting sudden issues. Building your individual paper-tube home, he added, will “require some expertise and instruments that will not be accessible, relying on the place you might be.”

Last month, as Mr. Maltz watched the scholars working, his ideas turned to the property’s late proprietor.

“Would he settle for that on this property? I prefer to suppose sure,” he mused. “I want Philip was right here to have a look down the hill and see a Paper Log House.”


Living Small is a biweekly column exploring what it takes to guide an easier, extra sustainable or extra compact life.

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