Shigeru Ban’s shelters accomodate Ukrainian refugees

In collaboration with Voluntary Architects Network, the Japanese architects Paper Partition System is being deployed in countries near Ukraine, sheltering those who escape war.

Shigeru Bar, together with Voluntary Architects Network (VAN+), an NGO which he leads, recently installed emergency shelters in the cities hosting Ukrainian refugees. After the Russian invasion erupted just outside its eastern border, Poland rushed to organise relief for the more than 2 million Ukrainians who sought refuge in the country. A particular epicentre of this support network was the border town of Chełm. Here on 11 March, 319 cardboard shelters were erected in a former supermarket. The installation was carried out by students from the University of Science and Technology in Wroclaw, after testing the assembly of a prototype, adapting the size of a single unit to 2.3m x 2m.


The system used is best known as the Paper Partition System (PPS), a simple partitioning system to ensure the privacy of inhabitants already used in numerous evacuation centres in disaster-stricken regions, such as the Great East Japan Earthquake (2011), the Kumamoto Earthquake (2016), the Hokkaido Earthquake (2018) and the torrential rain in southern Kyushu (2020). Assembled in just 90 seconds, the individual modules are made of eight cardboard tubes with large holes drilled into them, while smaller tubes serve as connectors and are secured together with strips of adhesive tape. Once the frame is finished, a piece of fabric is thrown over the top beam and secured with safety pins.

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