Friday, October 10, 2008


so i am going to go back to school soon, and i am considering following something of a lifelong dream to be an architect. i feel very uncertain about this because it's focusing a lot of energy into something i am not 100% sure about, but i found this article today about architecture as a means of humanitarian aid and it really bolstered the idea of being an architect in my head, gut, and heart. it's a fantastic piece about Shigeru Ban and his pro-bono work designing structures for refugees. there is a lot of great info in there, and some great quotes like this:

"Another is that many people think architects drive up costs and create unusual buildings to call attention to themselves. Historically, architects worked for privileged people, such as kings and religious groups; it is the same today when big corporations and government entities use architecture to make their power and money visible. Some medical doctors and lawyers work for the money while others engage in pro bono, humanitarian activities—yet architects rarely take on this kind of work. So I thought it was really important for us to do something for society, not just to build monuments or help developers make money."

"SB: In 1995, shortly after I started working with the UNHCR, the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck Kobe. I knew I had to help after I read about a Catholic church, where many Vietnamese worshipped, that burnt down. Because of my work with refugees, I thought that minorities must have a more difficult time after a disaster, so I went to Kobe to look for this church. When I found the congregation, they were having their morning service outside, gathered around a fire. It was such a heartwarming moment. And so I offered to rebuild the church out of paper tubes. The priest refused. After that, I commuted to Kobe every Sunday and tried to convince him. I also visited the park where the Vietnamese congregants were living. The conditions were horrible, yet these people had no choice but to stay there, since they worked nearby. So my students and I started building temporary shelters for these people out of paper tubes and plastic beer-bottle crates. After that, the priest permitted me to rebuild the church out of paper tubes as long as I raised the money and gathered volunteers to build it."

The selflessness of his work is really great, and he's also a fantastic architect on top of being a really awesome dude. for anyone interested in him i'd start with his wiki page and then there is a link there for his official site. check out the metal shutter house being built in NYC and some of his paper tube houses.

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