Shigeru Ban Architects of Tokyo has been named the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate for designing projects using recycled and reclaimed materials, including paper.
Ban, who is 57, is the 37th recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. He studied at the the Tokyo University of the Arts, the Southern California Institute of Architecture and Cooper Union, where he was mentored by John Hejduk, a member of the experimental New York Five. Ban's work explores basic geometry as well as the Japanese concept of the "universal floor" and what he calls "invisible structure," meaning he incorporates structural elements into the overall design rather than draw attention to them. He eschews new materials and techniques because he feels they detract from the expression of the concept behind his buildings.
Ban became interested in using recycled paper and cardboard tubing in the 1980s and has been using it for disaster relief shelters ever since then, including sites in India; Rwanda, China, Turkey, Haiti and Japan. He has also created several major works around the world, such as the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand. Due to paper tubes' high density, they are very difficult to burn and can be used in extreme weather conditions. Ban often uses a buckle system of fabric tape instead of mechanical joinery and sometimes connects the paper tube joints to laminated wooden joints. Depending on the project, polyurethane, acrylic paint and waterproofing film can be used to further strengthen the paper tubing. The buildings are all easy to dismantle and often entirely recyclable.
All photos are courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects.