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JULY 24, 2000 VOL. 156 NO. 3

  ALSO IN TIME
COVER: The Quest for Answers
Startling medical breaththroughs in Alzheimer's research may lead to drugs capable of slowing--or even halting--the disease's progress

JAPAN: Caught Between Two Worlds
Is it an American outpost or a Japanese backwater? Neither? Both? Host to this week's G-8 summit of the world's most powerful leaders, Okinawa is an island in search of an identity
Namie Amuro: The singer made it hip to be Okinawan

THAILAND: Can Anybody Do This Job?
In Bangkok's gubernatorial race, the candidates seem unable (or unwilling) to focus on the key issue: the urban mess

SOUTH PACIFIC: Far From Harmony
Rebels release the hostages, but that may not end Fiji's chaos

INNOVATORS: The New, New Look
Our new series on the next wave of influential people begins with designers who are changing the way we see the world

CASINOS: Bad Boys Abound in "Vegas East"
Glitzy gaming houses, some of them owned by drug lords and mass murderers, are popping up along Thailand's borders

CINEMA: Showdown With China's Censors
Will Jiang Wen be barred from moviemaking for seven years?


SPOTLIGHT

MILESTONES

TRAVEL WATCH: Imagine: Airline Food You Can Actually Eat

INNOVATORS: ARCHITECTURE
He Builds with a Really Tough Material: Paper
By BELINDA LUSCOMBE

There are a few ineluctable facts about buildings. They are expensive, time consuming and labor intensive to make. They are strongest if built from the sturdiest materials. Well, no, on all counts. Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has built homes, pavilions and churches, some of them permanent, using little more than cardboard tubes. "I was interested in weak materials," says Ban, 42. "Whenever we invent a new material or new structural system, a new architecture comes out of it." Ironically, Ban may be closer to the old modernist ideals than many who build today in glass and steel. He wants beauty to be attainable by the masses, even the poorest.

Ban first began to use the tubes in the '80s, in exhibitions. Impressed by the material's load-bearing capacity (he calls cardboard "improved wood"), he thought of them again in 1995, after the Kobe earthquake, and used donated 34-ply tubes to build a community hall and houses. Working with the United Nations, Ban has shipped paper log houses to Turkey and Rwanda. "Refugee shelter has to be beautiful," he says. "Psychologically, refugees are damaged. They have to stay in nice places."

But it's not all about utility. Ban has managed to turn ugly-duckling cardboard into some gorgeous swans. The Japanese pavilion he created for this year's EXPO 2000 in Hannover, Germany, is a huge undulating grid of paper tubes enclosed, like a covered wagon, with a paper canopy. An eight-ton, 27-m-long lattice arch of tubes currently swoops over the garden at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, casting a thatch of ever changing shadows.

Ban's designs touch the earth lightly in more ways than one. After EXPO 2000, his pavilion will be shipped to a recycling center to be returned to the pulp from whence it came. Just try that with bricks.

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