And the Pritzker Prize Goes To Shigeru Ban (Photos)

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has won the top architecture prize for his designs that largely rely on one unconventional material—paper. Here, a look at his most memorable works.

Hiroyuki Hirai, Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Shigeru Ban Architects

Shigeru Ban

Each year, one of the world’s leading architects is awarded the coveted Pritzker Prize, a $100,000 grant acknowledging the recipient’s lifetime contributions to the field. Regarded as the Nobel Prize of architecture, this year’s award went to 56-year-old Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban, who works from unusual materials and has consistently used his talents for humanitarian purposes. Working almost exclusively with paper—a material rarely seen as a building block of large-scale constructions—Ban’s structures span the gamut from concert halls, museums, and housing to permanent and temporary shelters providing much needed relief to under developed communities. Here, a look at some of his most memorable works.

Stephen Goodenough, Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand (2013)

After a 6.3-magnitude earthquake caused devestating damage to the Christchurch, New Zealand's symbolic cathedral, Ban constructed a temporary structure comprised of paper tubes that was based on the original design.

Didier Boy de la Tour, Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Paper Concert Hall, L’Aquila, Italy (2011)

While the Italian city was being rebuilt after a 2009 earthquake, Ban's temporary concert hall, which was quickly assembled and durable, paid homage to the city's famous music scene, allowing a speedy resumption of all postponed activities.


Centre Pompidou, Metz, France (2010)

This art museum is notable for its expansive and complex roof that was inspired by a hat Ban found in Paris. Since its construction in 2010, the structure has become one of the most visited cultural institutions outside of Paris.

Michael Moran, Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Metal Shutter House, New York, United States (2010)

This 11-story structure is Ban's first U.S. construction. Its unique design allows each unit to be hidden as well as expanded. Two separate screens, one that hides the entire unit and one that expands the living quarters onto the terrace can be controlled by each individual unit.

Hiroyuki Hirai, Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club House, Korea (2010)

Billed as Korea's most luxurious golf course brand, the  Haesley Nine Bridges club house uses sustainable building materials to maximize the timber structure. The hexagon-grid roof, a common element in Ban's structures, implements a natural ventilation concept using the renewable wood material.

Li Jun, Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Hualin Temporary Elementary School, Chengdu, China (2008)

Collaborating with Japanese and Chinese universities, 120 volunteers implemented Ban's designs after an elementary school was struck by an earthquake in May 2008. Using cheap, sustainable, and readily available paper tubes, the construction allowed for temporary educational facilities that would have otherwise been delayed.

Didier Boy de la Tour, Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Paper Temporary Studio, Paris, France (2004)

Using his trademark material, Ban designed a temprary studio at the Centre Pompidou in Paris to accommodate the project team constructing the Centre Pompidou-Metz.

Hiroyuki Hirai, Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Japan Pavilion, Expo 2000 Hannover, Germany (2000)

The honeycomb structure that took only three weeks to assemble is another of Ban's creations built from paper tubes.

Hiroyuki Hirai, Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Naked House, Saitama, Japan (2000)

Designed for a family of five, this single room structure houses indivudal rooms on wheels that can be easily shifted and rotated. Each movable room is made of paper panels attached to wood frames and can be joined to create larger rooms.

Hiroyuki Hirai, Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Nine-Square Grid House, Kanagawa, Japan (1997)

One of Ban's few non-paper constructions, the Nine-Square Grid House is a vastly open structure that allows sliding doors to be voluntarily arranged in order to create separate rooms.

Hiroyuki Hirai, Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Curtain Wall House, Tokyo, Japan (1995)

This unique construction is completely open to the outdoors, with the only partition between the inside and outside a floor to ceiling curtain that wraps around two of the building's sides.