Shigeru Ban

Shigeru Ban is an accomplished Japanese architect, mostly renowned for his innovative work with paper, particularly recycled cardboard paper tubes used to quickly and efficiently house disaster victims.

Shigeru Ban was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1957. He studied at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and later went on to Cooper Union's School of Architecture where he studied under John Hejduk before graduating in 1984. Hejduk was a part of the New York Five and from him, Ban not only learned fundamental elements of architecture, but also gained an interest in "architectonic poetics" or the creation of three-dimensional poetry.

For Ban, one of the most important themes in his work is the "invisible structure". That is, he does not overly express his structural elements, but rather chooses to incorporate them into the designs. Ban is not interested in the newest materials and techniques, but rather the expression of the concept behind his creations. He deliberately chooses materials to further this expression.

He was the first architect in Japan to construct a building primarily out of paper and required special approval for his building to pass Japan’s building code. Ban himself quotes: "I don't like waste," summing up his philosophy and practice, known as "Paper Architecture".

Through his firm, Shigeru Ban Architects, he has created revolutionary architectural designs such as the Curtain Wall House and the Nicolas G. Hayek Center in Tokyo, the Japanese Exhibition hall at Expo 2000 in Hannover, and the Centre Pompidou-Metz in France. He has worked as a consultant for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, founding the NGO Voluntary Architects' Network at the same time. For over two decades he has been involved in innovative techniques of fast and cheap temporary shelter building. His approach, using existing paper material, was used in the Rwanda refugee crisis and in earthquake disaster zones in Japan, Turkey, Italy, Haiti, Sri Lanka and China.

In 2014, Ban was named the 37th recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the most prestigious prize in modern architecture. The Pritzker Jury cited Ban for his innovative use of material and his dedication to humanitarian efforts around the world, calling him "a committed teacher who is not only a role model for younger generations, but also an inspiration."

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