Shigeru Ban: The Paper Log House
Shigeru Ban: The Paper Log House at The Glass House marks the first time in six years that the innovative house will be on display in North America. In collaboration with The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union, 36 architecture students will gain hands-on experience assembling the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban’s Paper Log House, a 14 by 14-foot enclosure made of paper tubes, wood and milk crates deployed to provide temporary housing for victims of disaster across five continents over the last 30 years. As part of a special project offered through the school’s Building Technology course this semester, students will fabricate the components at The Cooper Union then assemble the Paper Log House on the grounds of The Glass House, where it will remain on display through the upcoming tour season, April 15 – December 15th, 2024.
“We are thrilled to present the work of Shigeru Ban Architects at The Glass House on the occasion of our 75th anniversary. When the Glass House and Brick House were completed in 1949, Philip Johnson was just at the beginning of what would become an expansive campus filled with structures and sculptures that continually pushed boundaries in design and materials over the course of more than 50 years. The Paper Log House continues this ethos. Since 1995, Paper Log Houses have been deployed around the world for victims of natural disasters. By using locally available and reusable materials in novel ways, the design of the house adapts to the unique cultural, geographical, and economic conditions of each location. The team from Shigeru Ban Architects and the students from The Cooper Union’s architecture program join us in reaffirming that innovation and experimentation at The Glass House is alive and well,” said Glass House executive director, Kirsten Reoch.
Known for his innovative use of paper and wood, architect, educator, and humanitarian Shigeru Ban [b. 1957] originally designed the Paper Log House in 1995 as a shelter for former Vietnamese refugees displaced by the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe, Japan. Designed to be low cost and easy to assemble, Ban utilized paper tubes as the house’s primary building material because they are readily available, economical, and sustainable nearly anywhere in the world. Born out of his desire to not make waste, his experiments with paper tubes began in 1985, and, since then, he has pioneered paper tube construction, elevating the humble material through installations, buildings, and disaster relief projects around the world. Many of his relief projects, such as Cardboard Cathedral in 2013, have gone on to become permanent fixtures in their communities.
The opening of Shigeru Ban: The Paper Log House at The Glass House in New Canaan creates a unique opportunity to reflect on the permanence of architecture, and how disparate building materials, namely glass, brick and paper offer unexpected possibilities. Ban famously noted, “If a building is loved, it becomes permanent.” In creating buildings that are meaningful to and cared for by their communities, Shigeru Ban’s inventive work alongside The Glass House challenges preconceived notions of permanence and material strength. Visitors will be able to consider the value of both historic preservation and permanence in glass and brick juxtaposed with temporary, recyclable, and movable structures made of paper and cardboard. In today’s world of mass migration, due to conflict and natural disasters, the public can see a simple solution for aiding those in need of immediate shelter. The Paper Log House will be complimented by a digital brochure and a time-lapse video documenting its construction throughout The Glass House’s 2024 season.
Shigeru Ban Architects (SBA) is a global architecture and design firm renowned for its innovative work with timber, paper, and bamboo structures. Founded and led by Pritzker Laureate Shigeru Ban in 1985, SBA has three offices in Tokyo, New York, and Paris, and a team of 80, with more than 160 projects constructed across six continents. In 2022, in collaboration with Rizzoli, SBA released Shigeru Ban: Timber in Architecture showcasing over 35 mass timber projects built in the 21st century. In the United States, SBA has overseen the design and construction of Metal Shutter Houses in Chelsea, New York City (2011); Aspen Art Museum in the Rocky Mountains (2014); the adaptive reuse of a historic commercial building into Cast Iron House in Tribeca, New York City (2021); and a store façade for Tiffany & Co Palo Alto (2023). Currently, SBA’s New York office is leading projects in Florida, Utah, Kentucky, and British Columbia. Globally, SBA has a wide range of projects under construction including Ukraine’s largest hospital in Lviv; Blue Ocean Dome, the main pavilion for the Expo 2025 Osaka in Japan; and nine hybrid mass timber residential buildings as part of the Nieuw Zuid Master plan in Belgium, among others. Among SBA’s projects in design stages is the recently announced Infinite Maldives, a five-acre 44-villa “resort residence” located within the Malé Atoll and designed to embrace the Maldivian vernacular.
Shigeru Ban is the founder of Shigeru Ban Architects (SBA), one of the world’s leading architecture firms and a pioneer in advancing the field of wood and mass timber design and construction. He studied architecture at Cooper Union in New York City before returning to Tokyo to establish SBA in 1985. In 1995, his practice expanded beyond client-driven commissions with the establishment of VAN – Voluntary Architects’ Network, an NGO through which he provides humanitarian relief projects in response to a wide array of disasters from hurricanes and earthquakes to war. Shigeru is dedicated to teaching the next generation of architects. For 30 years he taught at universities in Japan and the United States. In 2014, Shigeru Ban received the Pritzker Prize, the world’s highest honor in architecture. He has also received L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, The National Order of the Legion of Honor in France; the Princess of Asturias Award for Concord; the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture; the Peter Cooper Public Service Award; and the Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice.
VAN-Voluntary Architects’ Network is motivated by the belief that knowledge and skills of an architect should not be limited to designing only for the privileged. Shigeru Ban’s global humanitarian work began in 1994, when he applied his understanding of paper tubes as an ideal recyclable, lightweight, and inexpensive structural material to refugee housing in Rwanda for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Through VAN, Ban applies his extensive expertise in recyclable materials, often deploying paper tube structures to provide low-cost buildings for victims of disaster. In each project, careful attention is paid to the lifecycle of both materials and resultant building. Since its founding, the organization has provided temporary housing, community centers, concert halls, and elementary schools, as well as triage and care centers. Recent and current humanitarian works are underway in Hawaii, Japan, Kentucky, Morocco, Syria, Turkey, and Ukraine, among others.