A Look at the Work of Pritzker Prize Winner and Architect Shigeru Ban - Soulful Concepts
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A Look at the Work of Pritzker Prize Winner and Architect Shigeru Ban

Since his firm’s humble beginnings in Tokyo back in 1985, Shigeru Ban has gone on to become one of the most accomplished personalities in the world of architecture. One of his most notable achievements is being awarded the Pritzker Prize, which is one of the most esteemed honours that an architect can reach.


The man behind the buildings


Ban is known for his innovative use of paper, as well as his impeccable ability to create cutting-edge structures. Because of his intricate attention to detail, the quality of his work is exceptional while still managing to be delicate in its approach.

Historically speaking, the Japanese have always been recognised for their unique perspective on design. In the country’s city and rural areas alike, it is noted on Expat Bets that there is an array of interesting and uniquely beautiful establishments, from ryokan and temple lodgings, to capsule hotels and pension homes. True enough, these places successfully marry both the traditional and modern — a signature in Japanese culture and style, as well as a consistent element in Ban’s creative vision.

Most importantly, Ban consistently injects empathy into his creations. Using architecture, he is able to provide efficient solutions to humanitarian challenges. He aims to also address pressing problems in today’s society, such as our planet’s devastating deterioration, through his buildings’ design features and materials. For example, his materials are often low-cost and recyclable, which makes them more sustainable and environmentally conscious options in a world dominated by wasteful luxury. This is definitely an important endeavour, which we constantly highlight here on Soulful Concepts.

With all this in mind, here are a few of Ban’s most influential works.


The Paper House in Yamanashi


Fashioned entirely out of recycled paper, the Paper House pioneered the use of cardboard in construction. Because paper had yet to be acknowledged as actual building materials, the house had to be created with special permission. The result was 10 paper tubes supporting the vertical load, 80 interior tubes bearing the lateral forces, and one revolutionary win for the architecture industry.


Paper Partition System in Okayama


In response to torrential rains that shook Japan, Ban joined forces with the Voluntary Architects’ Network to construct a slew of paper and fabric dividers inside gymnasiums. These were used to house hundreds of refugees whose homes were damaged in the floods. True to his environmental ethos, Ban made sure that the materials could still be recycled again after its use in Okayama relief efforts.


Naked House in Saitama


The Naked House derives its name from the building’s transparent walls inside and out. It has come to be known as a “greenhouse-style building,” with its corrugated fibre-reinforced walls evoking a glowing light. Interestingly, Ban wanted the space to give off a communal feel, hence the lack of separation and seclusion.


The Curtain Wall House in Tokyo


The Curtain Wall house is designed to look like a single, unified structure, blurring the lines between interior and exterior. It is one of Ban’s more traditional work, as it embraces old school Japanese fusuma doors, sudure panels, and sliding shoji screens.


The Centre Pompidou-Metz in France


This luminous building is a nod to the 1977 Centre Pompidou. Today, it stands as a vast, modular structure rising 77 meters above the ground. Apart from being a stunning beacon for modern design, it is also a significant cultural space, providing a venue for everything — from an auditorium and reception areas, to restaurants and a book store. But of course, it is Ban’s design that contributes to the highly inviting atmosphere and sensory relationship with the immediate environment.


Author Bio: Joanna Mitchell is a freelance writer with a degree in communications. She likes to channel her talent into writing about her causes and advocacies, particularly concerning issues of sustainability. Outside of work, she has a keen interest in music and cooking.

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