You know “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” right? That game that’s supposed to prove that there are only six connections separating every one in the world from the American actor (your sister has a friend who works for the sanitary engineer who was sub-contracted by the builder who works with Kevin Bacon’s architect)?
Shigeru Ban was named last month as this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, for his groundbreaking humanitarian work designing disaster-relief shelters (it’s about time we honored architecture that went beyond breathtaking aesthetics, yes?).
Remember this post I wrote from the Milan Fair two years ago, when Hermes launched Shigeru Ban’s Module H wall cladding? I wrote about calling his office for my first magazine job, and Shigeru Ban sent a package of images addressed to me.
That means I had direct connection with a Pritzker Prize winning architect!
But anyway, seriously, Shigeru Ban is my architectural hero.
I drool at Oscar Niemeyer and Frank Gehry’s designs, but this 57-year-old architect is really the one who has touched lives around the world with his paper shelters. Made from cardboard tubes (think giant versions of the brown paper tube that holds your toilet paper), Ban’s shelters are quick to “construct”, sturdy enough to last three years or longer, and quick to dismantle and recycle. They have housed survivors and volunteers of natural disasters in Kobe (Japan), Haiti, Rwanda, India, China and similar disaster-stricken countries.
The low-key architect has his landmark designs, too, of course, and luxury projects (like Module H).
Congratulations, Mr Shigeru Ban…and man, I wish I had kept that bubble-wrap envelop you sent to me when I was a newbie staff writer at Bluprint.
Shigeru Ban in Haiti
Paper log house, Kobe, Japan
Paper church, Kobe, Japan
Paper Concert Hall, L’Aquila, Italy
All photos, except Module H, courtesy of Pritzker Prize