Photo/IllutrationShigeru Ban sets up partitions for evacuees of the torrential rain in the gymnasium of the Sono Elementary School in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, on July 14. (Kazushige Kobayashi)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

KURASHIKI, Okayama Prefecture--World-renowned architect Shigeru Ban sprang into action again in a disaster zone by setting up temporary “homes” to give flooding victims here some much-needed privacy.

Ban, members of his Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN) and student volunteers used recycled paper tubes and pieces of fabric to create partitions for evacuees in the gymnasium of the Sono Elementary School in the Mabicho district on July 14.

“It is our mission as professional architects to make living environments better,” Ban said. “We are just doing our job.”

VAN is a nonprofit organization headed by Ban.

The materials are light, can be assembled into partitions in a short time, and can be reused after the evacuees move out.

Within three hours, the wide-open gymnasium was transformed into tidy rows of partitions.

“It will be easier to sleep at night now that the views of (people around me) are blocked,” said a 77-year-old woman who sought shelter at the school.

About 30 percent of the Mabicho district was submerged, and at least 50 people died.

Ban has used his low-cost temporary housing for victims of other disasters at home and abroad, including the 2004 Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake, the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, and the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes.