Born in Tokyo in 1957, graduated in architecture in 1984 in the United States (Southern California Institute of Architecture then Cooper Union School of New York), Shigeru Ban became known for his architecture based on cardboard tubes and his militant reflection on an architecture of emergency following natural or human disasters.
Shigeru Ban will have left his mark during the earthquake of Kobe’s terrre in 1995, a humanitarian catastrophe at the end of which he will propose an ephemeral habitat for the benefit of the less fortunate, which will make him an architect advisor to the High Committee for Refugees of the UN, from 1995 to 1999.
As a tireless traveller, he visited victims around the world for more than 20 years, working in Japan, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Rwanda, China, Italy and New Zealand.Zeeland, where he has just completed the ephemeral paper cathedral of Christchurch, also hit by an earthquake in 2011.
In France, Shigeru Ban is known for having created in collaboration with Jean de Gastine the Centre Pompidou-Metz inaugurated in May 2010, as well as the future Cité musicale which is to be established on the island Seguin, in Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine), the «cardboard bridge», a temporary project near the Pont du Gard, or the Consortium, a contemporary art centre, in Dijon.
This distinction, equivalent to the Nobel Prize for Architecture, crowns an architect of great talent whose work and commitment had as its main destination, that of putting architecture at the service of others.
The Pritzker Prize, created in 1979 by the Pritzker family, owner of the Hyatt hotel chain, is awarded annually to a contemporary architect. The jury, composed of personalities including internationally renowned architects, historians and academics, praised in Shigeru Ban «his tireless humanitarian efforts» but also his travels “for 20 years on the scene of natural or human disasters, to work with citizens, volunteers, students, to design and build recyclable, low-cost shelters that restore dignity” to the victims.
He is the sixth Japanese architect to receive this prestigious distinction, after his compatriot Toyo Ito, who won last year, as well as Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (Sanaa) in 2010.
Endowed with $100,000 and symbolized by a bronze medal, designed by the American architect Louis Sullivan, the prize will be officially awarded on June 13 at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.