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Architecture Pritzker Architecture Prize 2014 Laureate: Shigeru Ban

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban was named the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate.

Ban is known for both innovative high-end works and humanitarian works. Some of his recent notable works include: Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, Tamedia New Office Building in Zurich, Center Pompidou-Metz, Container Temporary Housing in Onagawa, and Villa Sengokuhara in Hakone.

The jury cites: “Since its establishment thirty-five years ago, the goal of the Pritzker Architecture Prize is to recognize living architects for excellence in built work and who make a significant and consistent contribution to humanity. Shigeru Ban (…) reflects this spirit of the prize to the fullest.”

Based in Tokyo, Paris, and New York, Ban has practiced in Japan, India, China, France and many other countries since 1985. In 1995, he established Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN), a nongovernmental organization dedicated to disaster relief works.

Ban has been questioning the role of architect at the time of natural and man-made disasters. He writes in December 2013 issue of Shinkenchiku:

When I first became aware of my role as ‘architect’, I realized, with disappointment, that ‘we, architects, are not needed very much in the society.’ (…) Except for some public apartments, architectus have not designed for the general public nor temporary housing for those who lost their homes in natural disaster. These people cannot afford an architect, the government does not require comfort in temporary housing, and architects are too busy working for the privileged. In this age, “natural disaster” should be called “man-made disaster”. For example, earthquake itself does not kill people, but fallen buildings do. Which means, the responsibility also belongs to the architects. We, however, have not been involved in building of temporary houses, even though we anticipate rebuilding works created by devastation. But, I believe that architects can help create temporary habitat that can provide comfort for the residents.

Upon hearing the news, architect commented: “Receiving this prize is a great honor, 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.“