Eight years after obtaining the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, considered the world’s highest award in the discipline, the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban (Tokyo, 1957) has obtained a new recognition of great relevance, the Princess of Asturias Award for Concordin this case for his great humanitarian commitment.
The trajectory of this architect, trained at the Cooper Union in the United States, is distinguished, according to Fredy Massad, ABC Architecture critic, by a fundamental interest in research with techniques and materials driven by the motivation to “use what exists in different ways » and propose structural innovations −in which the weight of the Japanese architectural tradition also underlies−.
uninterested in fashionBan considers that this search for new ways of building things allows freeing the work itself from the influence of these transitory flows, even from the label of “sustainable” and “ecological” which is usually attributed to its architecture.
«This way of working came naturally to me already at the beginning, 30 years ago. I was always interested in low-cost, local, reusable materials». This has endowed him with a knowledge that has enabled him both to build museums, company headquarters, private homes, libraries, commercial premises, churches, pavilions… and to provide, from a tireless altruistic commitment, efficient and emergency solutions. in situations of humanitarian catastrophe since in 1994 it designed a model of temporary housing for Rwandan refugees.
In 1995 he was appointed adviser to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a position he held until 1999, and created the Voluntary Architects’ Network− an exemplary figure within the current architectural scene. Their houses built with cardboard tubes for those affected by the earthquakes in Kobe, Kaynasli and Bhuj or the partition systems designed to create spatial divisions that preserve a psychologically beneficial level of privacy, such as those used in Niigata and Fukushima, speak of an architect who understands help not only as the fact to provide a roof and walls through highly economical and fast construction solutions but, above all, to make these solutions comfort people plunged into a state of trauma and suffering.
Also noteworthy in his career are projects such as the Library of a Poet (1991), Paper Church in Kobe (1995); the Paper House, (1995), the Nine Grid Square House (1997), the Paper Dome (1998) and the Naked House (2000), where the conventions of space division and domestic routines were questioned; the Paper Theater in Amsterdam (2003); the Nomad Museum in New York (2005), his own Parisian studio created in 2006, located on the terrace of the Center Pompidou, from which he worked on the design of the museum in Metz, built with cardboard tubes.
The Japanese pavilion deserves a special mention for the Universal Exhibition in Hannover (2000), in which Ban had the opportunity to work with one of his reference figures, Frei Otto, who praises him considering him “a true construction artist, a architect who understands that simple solutions are often the most complex to develop and who is constantly open to new ideas without losing sight of his goals». Among his most recent works, the temporary dwellings in containers in Onagawa (Japan, 2011), the auditorium in L’Aquila (Italy, 2011) and the Cardboard Cathedral (New Zealand, 2013) stand out. In Spain built a pavilion in the garden of IE University (Instituto Empresa de Madrid) with the structure of paper tubes that characterizes many of his works.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism