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Where Women Glow and Men Plunder

An architecture post. Because it’s been a while since I’ve been inspired to write one.

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban likes cardboard. A lot. Specifically cardboard tubes, coated in polyurethane. We like to think of churches as places of permanence. Stone and wood, colored in with a stained glass rainbow.

Ban made magic with plastic and cardboard. A response to devastation in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake. A nod to the temporary notion of the worship of Life. To the wisdom of grabbing the moment, because moments are the essence of Living.

shigeru ban, christchurch shigeru ban

shigeru ban, christchurch shigeru ban

shigeru ban, christchurch shigeru banI laughed when MTM and I snapped photos for the same person. My dear friend Alice is the female version of MTM. I don’t know what I’d do without her. And she’s an architect. So I took this photo for her:

silo stay little river new zealand

While MTM was snapping this photo for Alice:

barbed wire

What do you think of temporary buildings constructed of cardboard? Can they approach the magnificence of a Gothic cathedral or a more permanent structure? Some people spend their lives in silos, but would you spend a night in one?

I love how New Zealand is bending my brain. I’d love to hear what you think about these pictures.

And, if you’re interested, I posted two photo montages to Tumblr. To see our collection from New Zealand’s Banks Peninsula, click here: Andra Watkins Tumblr

And to view our drive to New Zealand’s Mount Cook, click here: Andra Watkins Tumblr

Middle Earth. It takes on a whole new meaning.

***********

To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis isn’t Tolkien, and you can totally point that out once you’ve read it. Purchase my novel by following any of the links below.

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39 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow. That is magnificent.

    June 5, 2014
  2. hihohiho #

    Aww. Thanks you guys! I love them. Barbed wire light fixtures. And those silo cabins are amazing. I wondered what you thought of Ban’s chapel when I saw them on your tumblr feed. I am glad you liked it. I have always wanted to see one of his cardboard chapels. The only one of Ban’s buildings I have seen in real life is his office on top of the Pompidou Centre in Paris. I admire him so much because most of his best work has been for people bought up in the aftermath of natural disasters. He understands that good architecture shouldn’t be a luxury. That people need the order and serenity of a well designed space to reassure them that they can rebuild the broken works around them.

    June 5, 2014
    • It was hard not to like it. Such a happy building in the midst of the harsh reality of devastation. MTM is all about barbed wire at the moment. 🙂

      June 6, 2014
  3. I have lots of cardboard tubes at the moment – from large rolls of poster sized paper. Should I drop them all of at your place so MTM can get busy building?

    June 5, 2014
    • I think Ban has cornered the market on cardboard tube architecture.

      June 6, 2014
  4. Love your words and love Alice’s <>. That is exactly what this is doing.

    The silos are interesting, quirky and distinctive. How fun it would be to experience that. The Tumblr photomontages are also a treat. The ones of the church and distant mountains are amazing, but the one of MTM silhouetted in the rays of the setting (?) sun is outstanding.

    Keep on keeping on!

    June 5, 2014
    • We met someone at the silos while we were snapping pics. She said she lived down the road, but they stayed in the silos sometimes because they are so cool.

      June 6, 2014
  5. I have struggled with cardboard my whole life. Can’t seem to get rid of it. This is a very fine way to move it out. Where can I send mine? BTW that barbed wire ball is amazing.

    June 5, 2014
    • I really think barbed wire light fixtures would be pretty awesome, John. 🙂

      June 6, 2014
      • I have made them and they look great. Unfortunately the creator ends up looking like an abuse victim.

        June 6, 2014
  6. Architects have incredible imaginations! The photos are gorgeous. And the buildings are quirky. I can’t imagine staying in that silo, but I might at least try it.

    June 5, 2014
  7. Wow — you have gotten some very stunning photos; I can only hope I have equally auspicious opportunities on my trip.

    June 5, 2014
  8. Wonderful photos. I think that the cardboard buildings are as grand as the permanent Gothic ones. Just because something is temporary doesn’t mean that it’s not grand. Look at people. We’re all temporary, but can leave behind wonderful memories for those who pay attention. Same deal with buildings.

    June 5, 2014
  9. My goodness, what a beautiful place. I think it might be fun to stay in a silo! Hope you are enjoying yourself – from the looks of you both, you are.

    June 5, 2014
    • MTM was saying today (as we were hiking in a thunderstorm), “Wow. You never would’ve been out here ten years ago.” He’s right. I’ve changed a lot in a decade.

      June 6, 2014
  10. It’s interesting because my initial reaction was “I’m not going to like it”, I’m not such a fan of very modern architecture, I’m more of a grand, gothic architecture cathedral kind of gal. And yes I really like it, there’s a grandiosity to it that contradicts the simple materials and modern design. It was surprised actually which is always a very good thing! 🙂

    I had no idea people genuinely lived in silos!! not sure I could do it – too claustrophobic. Have you read the Hugh Howey Silos books btw? They’re fantastic

    June 5, 2014
    • It’s always great when we like something after giving it a try. (I am more of a grand, gothic cathedral person myself, so we have that in common, Celine.)

      I wonder if Hugh Howey came to NZ and was inspired by those silo hotels. They were pretty cool.

      June 6, 2014
  11. tarakianwarrior #

    Oh so very beautiful.

    June 5, 2014
    • I thought of you yesterday, Lori. We were driving through a valley, and MTM thought it looked like Idaho. I’m determined to get there someday.

      June 6, 2014
      • tarakianwarrior #

        I have no doubt that you will. 🙂 Maybe we can all bike that trail I’ve been talking about for a few years, or better yet, we can go up North and you, MTM and I (and Mike if I can convince him) can go on the Hiawatha Trail that connects Idaho and Montana with a 1.2 tunnel on the bike route. It has been one of the most beautiful rides I’ve ever been on. And…if you guys just want to take a sled ride down the bike trail, we can do that too. 🙂

        June 6, 2014
  12. Hallmarks of man’s ingenuity….(I love the cathedral)….and God’s handiwork….what a hauntingly beautiful place. Your photos, as well as your words, are always food for thought.

    June 5, 2014
  13. Would never guess it’s made of cardboard and plastic from the pics! The next evolution in our journey – how to laud and honor the impermanence of it all! 🙂

    June 5, 2014
    • Since we’re all impermanent, it’s the best thing to do, Tamrah. 🙂

      June 6, 2014
  14. Carlos Ovalle #

    Shigeru “Sugar Ban” (recent winner of architecture’s top prize) and I were classmates for a while. Creative and shy and very intelligent. His work is beautiful though I suspect there is a brilliant marketing marketing strategy behind the cardboard tube as emergency shelter trend.

    June 5, 2014
    • Behind every single solitary success is a brilliant marketing strategy (and some luck). I do think it’s great that his work is accessible to all.

      June 6, 2014
  15. Wow.!! That is just amazing.! I recently saw homes made from large corrugated metal boxes and they were beautiful.! I am continually astounded by man’s ingenuity 🙂

    June 5, 2014
  16. How very interesting these are, Andra.
    I would live in cardboard for maybe a day. Might be fun and would be interesting. I love the sense of place and the creativity, especially with the church.

    June 6, 2014
    • It didn’t feel like cardboard, Penny. I think that was the coolest thing about it.

      June 6, 2014
  17. I love anything made out of unconventional materials. The cardboard church is inspiring; couldn’t it be made permanent somehow? And the silo cabins? I’m dying of jealousy.I WANT ONE!!!!

    June 6, 2014
  18. How visionary! I really love the appearance, and the idea of permanence is a bit of an illusion anyway. I don’t think humans are capable of creating permanence, and it is a novel way to celebrate life without giving too much weight to the building itself. It’s really gorgeous. I’m so impressed. Now on to Tumblr. 🙂

    June 9, 2014

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