Shigeru Ban's architecture redefines aesthetics, space, structure and even the idea of permanence. In 1986, for the Alvar Aalto Exhibition near Tokyo, Ban experimented with constructing a building from long paper tubes, the kind found at textile factories. The tubes ended up being much stronger than he had imagined, and were easier to waterproof and fireproof than he had guessed. Ban created many experimental buildings in this vein -- from the Japanese Pavilion at Expo 2000 in Germany, which was meant to be recycled upon demolition, to an office for himself and his students set atop the Pompidou Centre in Paris, where they worked for six years.
But Ban's paper-tube designs have found another use -- as emergency shelters for those who have lost their homes in disasters and wars. In 1994, Ban created shelters for refugees in Rwanda. The next year, after an earthquake in Japan, he rebuilt a local church out of paper tubes that became a local fixture for 10 years. His designs -- both low-cost, and dignity-building -- have housed people affected by disasters in Taiwan, China, Haiti, Turkey and Sri Lanka. He helped develop a shelter system after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011.
The founder of Shigeru Ban Architects, Ban is the 2014 Pritzker Prize winner. He teaches at Kyoto University of Art and Design.