Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has won the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize, the top award in that field. In France, Shigeru Ban designed the Metz Centre Pompidou museum (see below), with an undulating white roof supported by wooden latticework. His works are known for using low-cost materials, often locally sourced: He unveiled last summer the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand (pictured above). Singaporeans will remember his Containart Pavilion for the Singapore Biennale of Architecture in 2008, aninstallation built with 150 shipping containers and recyclable paper tubes, in Marina Bay.
“Shigeru Ban is a force of nature, which is entirely appropriate in the light of his voluntary work for the homeless and dispossessed in areas that have been devastated by natural disasters,” Peter Palumbo, Pritzker jury chairman, said in a statement.
“But he also ticks the several boxes for qualification to the Architectural Pantheon – a profound knowledge of his subject with a particular emphasis on cutting-edge materials and technology; total curiosity and commitment; endless innovation; an infallible eye; an acute sensibility – to name but a few,” Palumbo added.
Ban, who said he was greatly influenced by the simplicity and efficiency of Japanese carpentry, has also devoted much of designs to humanitarian efforts, including shelter for people displaced by conflicts or disasters. He first designed shelters from low-cost and reusable items, often in the form of paper tubes, for refugees of the 1994 conflict in Rwanda and also for those affected by the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan. The Pritzker jury cited the works as “simple, dignified, low-cost, recyclable shelters and community buildings for the disaster victims.”
“When I started working this way, almost 30 years ago, nobody was talking about the environment,” Ban said in the statement. “But this way of working came naturally to me.”