Shortly after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011, we heard about Shigeru Ban’s plan to build a multi-storey temporary housing in Onagawa. Completed nearly 9 months later in November 2011, the complex was deemed a success, with claims like “residents are so satisfied with their interim accommodations that they have already expressed a desire to live here longer than the established two-year term,” according to an article in Archrecord. That was Ban’s intention in the first place, though it brings into question how long temporary housing–which implies immediacy–should in fact take to build.

Made from shipping containers, the question also arises whether these structures are the most appropriate, considering the amount of energy required to make the box habitable, though some consider that they make most sense in disaster relief situations. In a recent interview published at worldarchitects, project manager Yasunori Hirano reveals some of the difficulties of the project, from bureaucratic issues and a tight time frame to screening the safety standards of the containers and finding skilled labor.

The project was completed thanks to the donations and participation of Voluntary Architects Network (VAN), an organization run by Shigeru ban, and the sponsorship of major brands like Louis Vuitton and Muji with furniture and appliances. In order to further evaluate the project, it would be useful to know the total cost (which we haven’t found listed online, neither on Shigeru Ban’s website) and an updated anaylsis of residents’ adaptation to the new concept of housing (multi-storey) and its development into a new community.

What do you think of Ban’s emergency housing for post-tsunami Onagawa?

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