Shigeru Ban wins 'Nobel' for architecture

Pritzker Prize for cardboard cathedral designer

Last updated 13:49 25/03/2014
Shigeru Ban
BENOIT TESSIER

SHIGERU BAN: The Japanese architect pictured at the Centre Pompidou-Metz museum in Metz.

Cardboard cathedral July 2013
Dean Kozanic
TEMPORARY: The cardboard cathedral.

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One of architecture's most prestigious international awards has been given to the man behind Christchurch's cardboard cathedral.

Shigeru Ban was today named the winner of the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The 56-year-old Tokyo-born architect is known for his elegant, innovative and resourceful approach to design, as well as his humanitarian efforts.

Ban will be given the distinguished award at a ceremony at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum on June 13, recognising his work creating community buildings for disaster victims around the world.

Over the last 20 years, he has worked locals, volunteers and students in places hit by natural or man-made disasters to design and construct simple, low-cost and recyclable shelters and buildings.

His projects include Christchurch's cardboard cathedral, built as a temporary replacement for the earthquake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral.

The $5.3 million transitional Anglican cathedral opened to the public last year, incorporating 98 beams encased in cardboard and with seating for up to 700 people.

Ban said the Pritzker prize was a ''great honour'', but he felt he ''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,'' he said.

''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.''

Tom Pritzker said Ban's commitment to humanitarian causes through his disaster relief work was an ''example for all''.

''Innovation is not limited by building type and compassion is not limited by budget. Shigeru has made our world a better place.''

Jury chairman Lord Peter Palumbo said Ban was a ''force of nature''.

''He also ticks the several boxes for qualification to the Architectural Pantheon - a profound knowledge of his subject with a particular emphasis on cutting-edge materials and technology; total curiosity and commitment; endless innovation; an infallible eye; an acute sensibility - to name but a few.''

The jury praised Ban's experimental approach and structural innovations, using common materials like paper tubes and shipping containers, as well as unconventional materials including bamboo, fabric and recycled plastics.

The Pritzker Architecture Prize, founded in 1979, comes with a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion.

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