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2014 Pritzker Prize Winner: Shigeru Ban

The Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded every year to a living architect who has contributed significantly to society with his or her built works. The prestigious honor is widely considered to be the highest prize in architecture. It was founded in 1978 and is sponsored by the Pritzker family, who are native Chicagoans. This year’s winner is Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. Born in Tokyo in 1957, Ban dreamed of being a carpenter. Soon that goal evolved into becoming an architect, and Ban received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cooper Union in New York City in 1984. Ban’s work is varied; he has designed many types of buildings, including museums, residences and concert halls. But he is perhaps best known for his pro bono work in disaster relief areas. This work has been spurred on in part by his ideology on architecture, which is that the craft should not be reserved solely for those with money or power, but also for improving the living conditions of all of humanity. Ban travels to areas all over the globe that have been affected by natural and man-made disasters and creates structures with building materials such as cardboard tubes, which are inexpensive, readily available and recyclable. Although many of his disaster relief shelters are temporary in theory, Ban believes that building materials alone do not define the permanence of a structure. A concrete building may be torn down, but a cardboard structure may live on forever. Illustrating this last thought is the Paper Church, shown above. It was originally constructed in only five weeks in Kobe, Japan, following the 1995 earthquake. It is so adored that it was moved to Taiwan in 2005 where it is still standing. Permanent, indeed.

Photo Credits: Hiroyuki Hirai

See more of Shigeru Ban's work at his firm's website.

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