SHIGERU BAN: In an exclusive interview, the architect tells CLAD about the profession's 'social responsibility'

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

In an exclusive interview, 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 or lawyers and other professionals who work for people with problems, our job generally lacks a contribution to society.”

The humanitarian role architects can play in communities has been a topic of great discussion this year, thanks to Alejando Aravena’s Pritzker win and the forthcoming Venice Biennale, which will focus on architecture that overcomes social challenges.

Ban said he invests equal energy and takes equal satisfaction from his leisure projects and smaller-scale disaster relief ones – which include a Cardboard Cathedral for Christchurch, New Zealand and Paper Refugee Shelters 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 or 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 CLAD 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.”

Ban’s best-known leisure buildings 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 a ‘music city’ on Paris’s Île Seguin island.

In 2014, when he won architecture’s top prize, the Pritzker Jury cited Ban for his innovative use of simple materials, such as paper and cardboard, and his dedication to humanitarian efforts, calling him "a committed teacher” and an “inspiration."

The full interview with Shigeru Ban will feature in the next issue of CLADmag.

Shigeru Ban  Volunteer Architect' Network  architecture  design  humanitarian work  disaster relief  CLAD 
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Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban has told CLAD about the responsibility he feels as an architect to combine “monumental” public buildings with disaster relief projects around the world. In an exclusive interview, 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 or lawyers and other professionals who work for people with problems, our job
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Shigeru Ban takes 'equal satisfaction' from his large-scale projects and his humanitarian design work
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