The Sichuan province in China was hit by an earthquake measuring a magnitude of eight on the richter scale in May 2008. The natural disaster left the district of Chengdu destroyed.
The school buildings had been officially designated as unusable and had been completely closed for use. To aid the reconstruction of the city, Shigeru Ban's research center, banlab, collaborated with several Japanese and Chinese universities to design and construct temporary classrooms constructed from paper tubes for the Hualin Elementary School.
The temporary classroom buildings were designed and constructed using paper tubes, which are cheap, recyclable, reusable, and readily available on site.
During the summer vacation, about 120 Japanese and Chinese volunteers worked together on the construction while deepening mutual understanding. We developed simple building methods and plans suited to unskilled people such as volunteers. With appropriate construction management, three buildings (nine classrooms) were completed in about forty days. These were the first buildings in China to have a paper-tube structure, and were also the first school buildings to be rebuilt in the earthquake-stricken area. This being a key factor in why the project was important for the reconstruction in the area - the school was built within 4 months of the disaster.
The main arch structure of the temporary elementary school constructed with 20mm cardboard tubes. The arches are made out of four paper tubes which are then connected by wooden joints. This method makes up the basic frame construction of all the buildings.
Simple vinyl is used for sliding door panels which are located on the side walls of the classroom. These materials are cheap and easily available at the region. The partitions between classrooms are made from a fireproofing material. The roof is thatched with translucent corrugated polycarbonates sheets, which allows the daylight through to the round halls on the roof boards. The outside furniture was produced by volunteers.
The buildings were able to pass building regulations because they are only temporary structures, therefore building permits were not required.