The humanist architect

Shigeru Ban is a Japanese architect who is devoted to sustainable structures, with one of his most used materials being cardboard tubes. He travels the world to help countries build temporary structures after they have been struck with natural disasters. However, many of these structures stick around long after their intended purpose, thanks to Ban’s sound designs. 

He declared: “I was very disappointed at my profession as an architect, because we are not helping, we are not working for society, but we are working for privileged people, rich people, government, developers. They have money and power. Those are invisible. So they hire us to visualize their power and money by making monumental architecture”.

Ban has been involved in the restructuring of homes and landmarks for many years. In 1994, Ban helped Rwandan refugees by building them shelters. In 2008, Ban travelled to Chengdu, Sichuan in China to help rebuild a temporary church. In a month, he and his students were able to build nine classrooms over 500 square meters. He has also designed low-cost, sustainable shelters for those in Taiwan, Haiti, Turkey and Sri Lanka. Ban even helped to develop a shelter system after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011.

Watch more
Kobe: the need for Emergency Housing

A conversation