On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the Pacific coast of Tohoku, Japan. In Onagawa-Cho, the centre of the town was completely swept away by a 15m tsunami.
To provide shelter for displaced families, Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, famous for his disaster relief projects around the world, proposed to construct multi-storey temporary housing units using shipping containers. Shigeru Ban, backed with technical support from Arup, directly approached and received support from the town mayor to initiate the project.
Conventional single storey units would not supply enough housing because there was only limited flatland available in the hilly region above tsunami height. Arup contributed the structural design and provided site supervision.
Resistant frames were arranged in a checkerboard pattern to improve housing stability and to scatter seismic and wind forces. Hardware used in marine transportation, connect each container to simplify construction. Compared to most temporary housing, the containers are more resilient and have higher sound insulation.
The construction was successfully delivered within 14 weeks and Onagawa residences displaced by the tsunami moved in to their new temporary homes. The structure can be disassembled and transported with ease to reuse in other disaster relief efforts if needed.