Pritzker Prize awarded to Japanese architect Shigeru Ban

26 March 2014

The Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has won the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize, the industry's most prestigious accolade.

The 56-year-old has spent two decades designing "low-cost but dignified housing" for people in disaster zones including Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Haiti and the Philippines. He works with recyclable materials such as cardboard tubes for columns, walls and beams, which are easy to put up and take down, and can also be made flame-resistant and waterproof.

Ban's humanitarian work began in Rwanda in 1994. In the aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami in 2011, he built a three-story temporary shelter to house 19 families in the grounds of a baseball stadium.

"This is my life's work," said Ban. "After I became an architect I was very disappointed in our profession, because we are mostly always working for privileged people, with power and money. So I thought that architects needed to have more of a social role. I thought we could use our experience and our knowledge for people who need help in a natural or man-made disaster.

"Even something like temporary housing, we can make more comfortable and more beautiful," he added.

Outside his humanitarian work, Ban's projects include the Centre Pompidou-Metz, a modern art museum in France featuring a curved roof made of timber and inspired by a Chinese hat.

The prestigious Pritzker Prize comes with a $100,000 (£60,500) grant and will be presented at a formal awards ceremony in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in June.

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