Meet P.3 Artist | Shigeru Ban

"By the year 2020, which is after all only around the corner, there will be one billion people on this planet who have no roof over their heads. This is a very compelling and serious problem. I think that anything that the prize can do to raise the public awareness of this problem is worth doing. Because if we don't, who is going to." --Jury chair and architectural patron Peter Palumbo on the selection of the 2014 Pritzker Prize (Shigeru Ban received the Pritzker Prize in Amsterdam, June 14, 2014, Dezeen Magazine)

Shigeru Ban, Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2013. Photo: Bridgit Anderson | Image Courtesy Shigeru Ban Architects

“When I was younger, when I was a student, no one was talking about working in a disaster area. I was quite disappointed when I became an architect, because mostly we are working for privileged people who have money and power and we are hired to visualize their power and money with monumental architecture. I also like to make monuments because monuments can be wonderful treasures for the city, but also I knew many people were suffering after the natural disasters, and the government provided them very poor evacuation facilities and temporary housing. I believe I can make them better. That’s really an important role for myself: to continue working in disaster areas.” Shigeru Ban in Archdaily

Furniture House 6, New Orleans “Make it Right”. 2009, at 1919 Tennessee St. | Furniture House is a series of prefabricated homes built in Japan, China, and the US and Metal Shutter House

Shigeru Ban, born 1959 in Tokyo, Japan, is an internationally renowned architect, and was most recently named the 2014 recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the most prestigious prize in modernist architecture. Ban is best recognized for his groundbreaking architectural work with paper, and is the first architect to implement recycled cardboard tubing as housing infrastructure to quickly and efficiently shelter disaster victims.  According to Ban, paper is not only low-cost, but also extremely accessible. In 1990, when building relief housing in Turkey, he and his team were able to obtain the paper tubing for free. The recycled usage of paper instead of materials such as aluminum prevents theft and also conserves local trees, especially in refugee areas where resources are not as available. Ban’s minimal design ideology, which always incorporates the use of existing materials as well as a DIY approach, also allows for community participation in the creation of low-cost but effective shelters.

Paper Log House, Philippines | Image Courtesy Shigeru Ban Architects

For Ban, one of the most essential themes in his work is the "invisible structure” in that his designs fluidly integrate, rather than overtly express, structural elements. As an architect based in Japan with Western education and influences, Ban incorporates both Western and Eastern methods into his concepts and structures. His works, informed by many themes and forms found in traditional Japanese architecture, such as shōji and the “universal floor” which allows for continuity between all rooms, become traditional yet ultra-modern Japanese spaces influenced by rationalist views derived from Western modernism.

Paper Nursery School, Sichuan, China | Image courtesy Shigeru Ban Architects

Shigeru Ban attended The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and the Cooper Union School of Architecture. In 1985, he founded Shigeru Ban Architects. Ban has received over 40 awards for his inspiring contributions to the architecture and design world and is critically heralded for his innovative approaches to environmentally sound architecture, as well as his devotion to humanitarian efforts in the wake of some of the most devastating natural and manmade disasters of the past two decades. Ban is the founder of the Voluntary Architects Network (VAN), and has designed and implemented temporary high-quality, low-cost shelters for victims of disaster from Rwanda, to Haiti, Turkey, Japan, New Zealand, India, to elsewhere around the globe.

In 2007, Ban won 1st prize for residential developments at the MIPIM Awards, and in 2002, he won the “Best House in The World” Prize for his revolutionary Naked House at the World Architecture Awards. He has received two honorary fellowships from The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and The American Institute of Architects. In 2001, TIME magazine named him “Innovator of the Year.” Ban’s notable international projects include the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado (2014); Centre Pompidou, Metz, Metz, France (2009); Metal Shutter House, New York, (2009); Takatori Church, Kobe, Japan (2007); and Nomadic Museums in Tokyo (2007), Santa Monica (2006), and New York (2005).

Shigeru Ban, Paper Emergency Shelter, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 2010. Image courtesy Shigeru Ban Architects/ NGO Voluntary Architects' Network (VAN)

Shigeru Ban’s maquettes and design plans will be on view for Prospect.3, October 25th, 2014 through January 25th, 2015 at Longue Vue House and Gardens | Classical Revival mansion and gardens.

To see more of Shigeru Ban’s disaster relief work:

Written by Social Media Co-Director Danni Shen