A cathedral from cardboard: TEDxTokyo speaker Shigeru Ban's Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, NZ.

Shigeru Ban is an architect who believes architecture is about more than just commission and product, more than aesthetics or pure design — which is why he began using his expertise to build temporary relief housing out of recycled materials, things like paper tubes, beer cartons, and cardboard.

In his talk at TEDxTokyo, "Emergency shelters made from paper,"
Shigeru explains what made him want to build these atypical buildings:

"I was disappointed in my profession,” he says. “We are working for privileged people, for rich people, for government and developers. They have money and power, and those are invisible, so they hire us to visualize their power and money by making monuments of architecture…

I was very disappointed that we are not working for society, even though there are so many people who lost their houses by natural disasters … I thought, even as architects, we can be involved in the reconstruction of temporary housing. We can make it better. So that is why I started working in disaster areas.”

Since his start working with recycled materials in 1986, Shigeru has built multistory housing from shipping containers for victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan; built shelters from local materials in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake; even crafted an elementary school out of paper — the Hualin Paper Elementary School — replacing a school destroyed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China.

Recently, Shigeru rebuilt the Christchurch Cathedral in New Zealand, which was badly damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. However, his cathedral is a bit different than the original structure, as a good amount of the building materials are paper rather than stone.

Above, images of the newly-opened Christchurch Cardboard Cathedral, which seats 700 and is predicted to last for 50 years while a new,permanent structure is built. Below, Shigeru’s talk, which was featured on TED.com last week:

(Photos: Shigeru Ban Architects)

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