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Shigeru Ban

Founder Shigeru Ban Architects


Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban has told CLADmag about the responsibility he feels as an architect to combine “monumental” public buildings with disaster relief projects around the world.

Ban’s large scale projects include The Centre Pompidou-Metz museum in France and the Aspen Art Museum in the US. He is currently developing the Tainan Museum of Fine Arts and the Cité Musicale on Seguin Island in the Paris suburbs.

Ban said his post-disaster work with his Voluntary Architects’ Network in countries such as Japan and Ecuador is important to him, because “compared to doctors and lawyers and other professionals who work for people with problems, our job generally lacks a contribution to society.”

Ban said he invests equal energy in his “monumental” projects and smaller-scale disaster relief ones – which include a Cardboard Cathedral for Christchurch, New Zealand and Paper Emergency Shelters for UNHCR in Rwanda.

He said: “Architects work for privileged people to make their money and power visible with monumental buildings. Monumental architecture can be symbolic for cities, and I want to design monuments, but I also want to use my experience and knowledge for the general public and victims of natural disasters as well. My approach to the work is the same.

“I feel there is a social responsibility as an architect to put our skills to use where possible.”

Ban told CLADmag that before he begins any design, he extracts potential problems presented by the brief and considers ways to solve them before creating a form.

“Whatever the project, it is important to respect the characteristics, trademark or tradition of the place,” he said. “I don’t strive to create beautiful and aesthetic architecture, but these characteristics appear naturally from a design. It is something an architect senses.”

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CLAD people: Shigeru Ban, founder Shigeru Ban Architects
Shigeru Ban on balancing 'monumental' public buildings with disaster relief work