Shigeru Ban wins Pritzker Prize 2014

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Shigeru Ban

News: Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has been named as the 2014 laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Shigeru Ban is best-known for projects such as the Cardboard Cathedral in New Zealand, and the Centre Pompidou Metz in France, but is also highly respected for his pioneering use of cardboard in disaster relief projects around the world.

Centre Pompidou Metz by Shigeru Ban
Centre Pompidou Metz

He will become the second Japanese architect in a row to pick up the prestigious architecture prize, following on from last year's winner Toyo Ito, and will be the seventh to receive the accolade in its 36-year history.

Hearing the news, Ban said: "Receiving this prize is a great honour, and with it, I must be careful. I must continue to listen to the people I work for, in my private residential commissions and in my disaster relief work.

"I see this prize as encouragement for me to keep doing what I am doing - not to change what I am doing, but to grow."

Curtain Wall House by Shigeru Ban
Curtain Wall House

The architect began his career in the office of Arata Isozaka, after being educated in America at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and then New York's Cooper Union School of Architecture.

He founded his own Tokyo practice in 1985 with little experience and went on to complete a number of residential projects in Japan such as Three Walls (1988), Curtain Wall House (1995) and Naked House (2000).

Naked House by Shigeru Ban
Naked House

His first designs for paper-tube structures were used to provide temporary homes for Vietnamese refugees after the Kobe earthquake in 1995. Since then the architect has travelled to sites of natural and man-made disasters around the world to develop low-cost, recyclable shelters for affected communities.

He has also used shipping containers as ready-made elements for permanent and temporary structures.

Onagawa temporary container housing by Shigeru Ban
Onagawa temporary container housing

"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," said jury chairman Peter Palumbo.

"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."

Paper Concert Hall in L'Aquila by Shigeru Ban
Paper Concert Hall in L'Aquila

Last year Ban completed a temporary cardboard cathedral for Christchurch (2013), after the city's former Anglican cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake. He has also designed an art museum for Aspen, Colorado, that is set to complete this summer.

Cardboard Cathedral by Shigeru Ban
Cardboard Cathedral

The Pritzker Prize is presented annually to a living architect in recognition of contributions to both humanity and the built environment through architecture. Ban will receive a $100,000 prize and be presented with a bronze medallion in a ceremony on 13 June at the recently renovated Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

  • davvid

    What do they have against Steven Holl?

    • Colonel Pancake

      His urban schemes, which I believe is a justified reason to withhold the award from him, even with the strength of his singular use projects.

      Personally, I think Chengdu project and the Linked Hybrid are well off the mark.

    • cubert

      Come on, only one starchitect per year can enter in this pantheon.

  • Ard Buijsen

    About time!

  • Colonel Pancake

    It’s well-deserved, although it’s a boring pick. I think the following architects are deserving of the award in the coming years.

    David Chipperfield
    Steven Holl
    Bijoy Jain
    RCR Arquitectos
    Valerio Olgiati

    I’m sure I’m forgetting someone right now, so don’t hold it against me. It’s a crowded field.

    • Nicole

      Wouldn’t Chipperfield and Holl be even more boring choices though? Chipperfield has won the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, Wolf Prize, and the Praemium Imperiale and Holl the AIA Gold Medal, not to mention that their projects are more high-profile than Ban’s, so they would be very predictable laureates though they deserve the prize as much.

      What makes Ban a more exciting choice for me is not just that he has yet to be acknowledged on the same international scale as the other two, but also that the emphasis on the social and humanitarian aspect of his architecture in the jury’s citation is a movement in the right direction for the Pritzker. I can only hope that this leads to truly exciting laureates such as Diebedo Francis Kere and Bijoy Jain.

  • Colonel Pancake

    I forgot to mention Alberto Campo Baeza. I think he should be in line to win soon.

  • True Blue

    Well deserved. Shigeru Ban has made tremendous innovations in materials, efficient structures both permanent and ephemeral. How many starchitects do you know design for the poor while pushing the boundaries of extremely low budgets?

  • Nicole

    I actually pegged Kengo Kuma as the next Japanese architect to win with Shigeru Ban being overlooked like Arata Isozaki back then, so this a very pleasant surprise.

    • bim

      Congratulations. I do think that Kengo Kuma deserves a Pritzker though. He has been so influential both in building and writing.

  • kinetic
  • Jamie

    This year’s winner is political correctness.

    • Concerned Citizen

      It seems that everything in architecture is lowering the bar to popularity and PC.

      • Lindsay Webb

        I find these observations perplexing and I am wondering on what they are based.