Japanese Architect Shigeru Ban Wins 2014 Pritzker Prize

Japanese Architect Shigeru Ban Wins 2014 Pritzker Prize

Paper and cardbo's toolbox for drawings and models of buildings, but for Japanese architect Shigeru Ban they are good enough to make the real thing.

The 56-year-old, who has built a reputation over the past 30 years for crafting improbable structures around the world - from housing to art galleries and cathedrals - many from humble cardboard tubes, has been named as the winner of the 2014 Pritzker prize, the highest accolade in the industry.

"When you finish a roll of tracing paper or fax paper, there are always paper tubes left over," he said. "They were so strong and so nice, so I kept them. Then I went to the factory where they made them, and I saw they could make any length and any diameter."

Beginning with temporary exhibition designs, his experiments with cardboard engineering soon expanded in scope, from undulating grid-shell pavilions to the geodesic frame of his temporary office in Paris. Strapped limpet-like to the roof of the Pompidou Centre, this cardboard-framed tunnel was his base for designing the gallery's outpost in Metz, completed in 2010, itself conceived as a rippling rattan hat of bamboo and oiled paper.

But it is for his humanitarian work, as much as for his houses and museums, that Ban caught the Pritzker jury's eye. "He is a force of nature," said the jury chairman, Lord Palumbo, "which is entirely appropriate in the light of his voluntary work for the homeless and dispossessed in areas devastated by natural disasters."

In 1994, prompted by the displacement of millions by the Rwandan civil war, Ban proposed paper-tube shelters to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, followed a year later by paper log cabins after the Kobe earthquake, with foundations made of sand-filled beer crates and walls of vertical cardboard tubes. After founding the Voluntary Architects' Network in 1995, he has tackled disaster relief in Turkey, India, China and Haiti, most recently erecting a magnificent cardboard cathedral after the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand , rising in an elegant A-frame next to the ruins of George Gilbert Scott's stone building.

Outside Ban's humanitarian work, his projects include the Centre Pompidou-Metz, a modern art museum in France featuring a curved roof made of timber which is inspired by a Chinese hat. He also designed Swiss media firm Tamedia's seven-store headquarters, built with an interlocking wooden frame that has no metal joints.

Ban is the seventh Japanese architect to receive the prize since it was established in 1979, following Kenzo Tange in 1987, Fumihiko Maki in 1993, Tadao Ando in 1995, the team of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa in 2010, and Toyo Ito last year.