It’s easy to get googly-eyed by the onslaught of amazing green design out there these days. But it’s also important to look back a bit at some of the architectural precedent and acknowledge a building like Shigeru Ban’s Paper Church as the forward-thinking innovative design that it was. Built in 1995 and disassembled in 2005, the Nagata-Ku church in Kobe, Japan was built by church volunteers whose house of worship was destroyed by the 1995 Kobe earthquake. Using 58 paper tubes, the church is simple in its elliptical shape, but a dramatic spatial experience that turns low-tech materials into spiritual space.

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All the church’s materials were donated and construction was completed in only five weeks by the 160 volunteers. In plan, the church’s elliptical form is based on Bernini’s church designs. After the church’s disassembly in 2005, all the materials were sent to a city in Taiwan for reconstruction. Here’s a great example of inexpensive, innovative design for a post-disaster context, proving that emergency architecture needn’t be sterile, ugly, ungreen, or pricey.

+ Shigeru Ban Architects