Shigeru Ban, the architect of paper, Princess of Concord Prize 2022

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban (Tokyo, 1957), known for using unusual materials such as paper or cardboard in his buildings and for his “solidarity architecture” for the homeless, has been rRecognized this Thursday with the Princess of Asturias Award for Concord 2022, award to which 36 candidates from 17 countries opted.

Founder of the NGO ‘Voluntary Architects Network’ (VAN), with which he has built houses in areas affected by disasters in Haiti, Japan, China, India, Turkey, Italy and the Philippines, Ban sees architecture as a way to improve society and has made building with affordable materials his hallmark.

This sustainable architecture and its solidarity work in providing shelter in decent conditions to people in a precarious situation due to being victims of social and natural emergencies or conflict situations have been recognized by the jury that this Thursday in Oviedo awarded this award, the last of the eight awarded annually by the Princess of Asturias Foundation.

Considered the great architecture activist by the specialized press, Shigeru Ban has achieved international prestige for being able to provide quick and effective responses in the form of shelters and temporary housing to situations extreme and devastating events caused mostly by natural disasters.

These responses materialize in high-quality designs, conceived based on unconventional and reusable materials, and in constructions in which privacy and aesthetics are important factors because, in Ban’s opinion, they contribute to improving the psychological state of its inhabitants. .

With cardboard, Ban devises cylinders that, after receiving a polyurethane treatment, become a solid base to build structures at a minimum cost, as he did in prototypes of temporary houses to accommodate refugees in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide, or in Kobe (Japan) after the 1995 earthquake.

This system has also been used for the construction of privacy spaces for Ukrainian refugees on the border with Poland during the crisis caused by the Russian invasion.

Pioneer in the 1980s of environmental awareness and sustainability, he is currently studying the possibility of replacing steel structures with lightness and strength of carbon fiber, which would facilitate transport, storage and assembly.

Author, among others, of the Cardboard Cathedral in New Zealand, the Japanese pavilion at Expo 2000 in Hamburg (Germany) or the headquarters of the Pompidou-Metz Center (France), Ban won the Pritzker in 2014, considered the Nobel Prize of Architecture, and in 2017 the Mother Teresa International Award for Social Justice, among many others.

Her candidacy for the Princess of Asturias Award for Concord was proposed by María Sheila Cremaschi, director for Spain of the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, and supported by the Japanese ambassador to Spain, Kenji Hiramatsu.

The Princesa de Asturias de la Concordia is intended to distinguish “the work of defense and generalization of human rights, the promotion and protection of peace, freedom, solidarity, world heritage and, in general, the progress of The humanity”.

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Shigeru Ban, the architect of paper, Princess of Concord Prize 2022