News / Arts & Entertainment

Japanese Architect Shigeru Ban Wins Pritzker Prize

Tokyo-born architect Shigeru Ban, 56, the recipient of the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize, in New York, March 20, 2014.
Tokyo-born architect Shigeru Ban, 56, the recipient of the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize, in New York, March 20, 2014.
Sarah Williams
For the third year in a row, an Asian architect will receive the prestigious Pritzker Prize.  Japanese architect Shigeru Ban is the latest recipient of the award, which is considered to be the profession’s “Nobel Prize.”  He will receive the prize at a ceremony at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on Friday.

“Since I spent three years on the jury, between 2006 and 2009, I didn’t expect I would be chosen, so it’s a big surprise for me,” he said. “Compared to past laureates, I didn’t think I reached that level yet.”

Born in Tokyo, the 56-year-old Ban is known for his humanitarian structures, as well as his formal architecture. In 1994, he built relief shelters in Rwanda following that country’s civil war and genocide.  The next year, he helped the Japanese city of Kobe after the Great Hanshin Earthquake.

“For me, there is no difference between the normal architecture project and the humanitarian activities,” he said. “It’s just a different budget and a different atmosphere, and also there is no design fee but otherwise there’s no difference.”

Ban believes architecture should embrace all of society and not just the elite. 

“After I became an architect I was quite disappointed in my profession because mostly we are working for privileged people who have the power and money,” he said.  “I’m interested in making monuments, but I thought we can use our experience and knowledge for the general public, even for the people who lost their houses through natural disasters.”

Ban’s career has been notable also for its use of basic materials such as paper and plastic crates. He began his career in 1986, after studying in the United States at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and the Cooper Union School of Architecture.  Ban started out in Japan by using paper tubes to construct designs as a way to reduce project costs.  His methods were initially questioned by skeptical Japanese officials.

“First I had to get permission from the government to use the material as a structure element,” Ban said. “And also at that time, in 1986, nobody was talking about ecology or recycling, so it was quite unusual to use this for building, but now because everyone is interested in environmental issues, it’s become much easier to convince people.”

The paper used is industrial material and can be waterproofed and fire-protected. Some of Ban’s most prominent designs, including the Paper Church built for Kobe, Japan (later moved to Taiwan), and the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, are built of paper materials.   Both were constructed following devastating earthquakes. 
 
This undated image released by the Pritzker Prize shows a cardboard cathedral in New Zealand designed by Tokyo-born architect Shigeru Ban, 56, the recipient of the 2014 Pritzker Architecture PrizeThis undated image released by the Pritzker Prize shows a cardboard cathedral in New Zealand designed by Tokyo-born architect Shigeru Ban, 56, the recipient of the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize
x
This undated image released by the Pritzker Prize shows a cardboard cathedral in New Zealand designed by Tokyo-born architect Shigeru Ban, 56, the recipient of the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize
This undated image released by the Pritzker Prize shows a cardboard cathedral in New Zealand designed by Tokyo-born architect Shigeru Ban, 56, the recipient of the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize

The Pritzker jury also cited the Naked House in Saitama, Japan for questioning “the traditional notion of rooms and consequently domestic life.”  Another Ban trademark is his melding of exterior and interior spaces, as shown in the Curtain Wall House in Tokyo.

Ban is an international architect with buildings in Europe, Asia and the U.S.  He has offices in Tokyo, Paris and New York.  Two other Asian architects, Wang Shu of China and Toyo Ito of Japan, won the Pritzker Prize in 2012 and 2013.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.