shigeru ban: onagawa temporary container housing + community center
shigeru ban: onagawa temporary container housing + community center shigeru ban: onagawa temporary container housing + community center
sep 27, 2012

shigeru ban: onagawa temporary container housing + community center

community center for the ‘onagawa temporary container housing’ by shigeru ban architects, onagawa, miyagi, japan image © hiroyuki hiraiall images courtesy of shigeru ban architects

following the earthquake in march 2011, japanese practice shigeru ban architects conceived and implemented ‘onagawa temporary container housing’ along with a community center and atelier within the town of onagawa in the miyagi prefecture of japan. offering families privacy during the recovery, the firm initially embarked upon installing 1800 units of their 2 meter by 2 meter emergency partition system within 50 evacuation facilities. during the process, they learned about the state of the town of onagawa and their difficulties to provide temporary shelter due to the lack of flat land.

to resolve the geographical location’s terrain, a proposal for a three-storey structural framework to allow the stacking of 20 foot shipping containers in a checkerboard fashion. this alternating arrangement allows for airy and open living spaces with built-in shelves and closets for storage, a missing element within the temporary houses issued by the government. since many areas share similar landscape characteristics, these buildings may be constructed in many disaster situations and continue to be used as a long term residential solution due to their excellent seismic performance. three variations are formed by the placement of units, forming a 19.8 square meter unit for 1 to 2 individuals, 29.7 m2 for 3 to 4 inhabitants and 39.6 square meter residences accommodating more than 4 dwellers.

community center perimeter formed with shipping containers image © hiroyuki hirai

a community center and market are centrally located in the complex, offering a gathering space for community members. the center’s walls are formed with white shipping containers and are capped with a plywood gable roof. triangulated clerestory windows introduce natural daylight into the interior. the area for the food market is formed with a ring of containers and a tentsile roof protects from changing weather.

gable roof of plywood encloses the space image © hiroyuki hirai

tensile roof and perimeter containers enclose an open-air market image © hiroyuki hirai

residential buildings border the market image © hiroyuki hirai

residential buildings border the market and community center image © hiroyuki hirai

aerial view of the complex image © hiroyuki hirai

atelier image © hiroyuki hirai

paper tube columns and beams image © hiroyuki hirai

image © hiroyuki hirai

image © shigeru ban architects

living spaces of a container unit image © hiroyuki hirai

dining + living room may be divided with a panel door image © hiroyuki hirai

at night image © hiroyuki hirai

image © hiroyuki hirai

installation of the container units image © shigeru ban architects

installing container units by crane images © shigeru ban architects

team installing shelves for storage image © shigeru ban architects

site plan

floor plans / levels 1-3

floor plan / unit variations


assembly axonometric

  • I absolutely love the simplicity of the solution, born out of need. The functionality of the system(s)/containers produces even beauty of form. Perfect – and it begs us to question what is truly needed for living.

    Brian says:
  • Hi arquitecto murcia,

    Do you have any idea of what kind of wood it is?

    Rohit Sarma says:
  • Rohit, it seems to be Scandinavian Birch or Spruce

    Andres Sanchez says:
  • Hey,

    do you know what the cost per unit was to build and the estimated life span of the shelters?

    kerry dragon says:

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