Shigeru Ban, the 57-year-old winner of this year’s Pritzker Prize — arguably the world’s most prestigious architecture award — is the Rumpelstiltskin of building design.
For more than two decades he has taken simple materials, including paper and cardboard, and created life-changing structures for people impacted by natural disasters.
In the aftermath of the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, Ban built temporary homes for Vietnamese refugees using beer crates filled with sandbags.
n 2011, after an earthquake and tsunami devastated large parts of Japan, Ban crafted homes from shipping containers.
Last year he erected a cathedral made out of cardboard paper tubes for the people of Christchurch, New Zealand.
From Haiti to Rwanda to China, his low-cost structures become symbols of hope for people rebuilding their lives.
“For me there is no difference between monumental architecture and temporary structures in disaster areas,” he tells CNN. “They give me the same kind of satisfaction.”
Ban is the second Japanese artist in a row to win the prestigious award, following on from last year’s winner Toyo Ito.