The Pritzker Prize (one of architecture’s highest honors) awarded to Shigeru Ban is a joy for me not only for the work of Ban, but also because it is the celebration of architecture as a discipline for human beings and the multitude of ways they live in this world. (NY Times report)
In 1994 I was studying at the university when a colleague of mine suggested taking part in a design competition for a mobile medical unit for a desert region in Africa. His main motivator was that an excellent architect with a great social sensitivity and creative talent was on the judging panel. This architect was Shigeru Ban, and thanks to that first competition I started to follow Ban’s work.
He has inspired me in being the architect as in my mind this profession should be: focusing on people and the way they live together.
People in strife are sharing this planet with wealthy people but they all have one thing in common: they need spaces to live in, to socialize, to shelter and to be inspired by. Shigeru Ban has created incredible spaces with very big budgets and at the same time he has created amazing shelters made of canvas, cardboard and plastic beer boxes as foundations. In Christchurch he created the Cardboard Cathedral. The lecture theatre at CPIT was packed when he gave a public talk showing his many humanitarian and post-disaster projects around the world. I think everyone felt lucky that at least one inspiring building was happening in post-earthquake Christchurch – and it has been well utilized since being completed, serving for worship, jazz concerts, lectures and many other events, as well as a meaningful symbol of reconstruction. (Here’s a review.)
All this for me in his approach as well as his output is architecture; spaces, materiality, texture, poetic that all of us need for practical, functional and emotional requirements.