Ban Ban Ban Mei

In some dialects of China, Ban Mei would translate ‘to do something beautiful’.

Shigeru Ban, is the second Japanese architect to be lauded the most prestigious prize in architecture, the Pritzker and the seventh from the island nation.

Japanese architects have always stunned with their simplistic designs and their uncanny ability of material knowledge, use or application. Their architecture always exudes an aura of lightness, of agility and of elegance. Whether it’s the concrete magic of Tadao Ando, the white color of Toyo Ito, the plug-in megastructures of Kenzo Tange, the slick shiny surfaces of SANAA or the cardboard brilliance of Shigeru Ban.

Tokyo I would assume is a precipice of timeless architectural marvels, mostly tiny, considering the severe lack of space and is definitely alluring for an average architect. Inspite of being struck repeatedly by both natural and man-made disasters the city and the country as a whole have shown immense courage and resilience at every turn of history.

Ban himself is known for his humanitarian touch in architecture. As a jury wrote, “His buildings provide shelter … for those who have suffered tremendous loss and destruction.” adding that “when tragedy strikes, he is often there from the beginning.” In that sense his work is truly Japanese in kind and spirit.

Cardboard as a material for construction and humanitarian efforts are constant stars, though his work spans over many other diverse projects.

His most impressive works to me are the Cardboard church in Christchurch, the Naked House, the curtain wall house, the Paper-concert hall in L’Aquilla and the Onagawa temporary container housing.

the cardboard church, christchurch


With a 50 year life span this temporary cardboard church structure can even put many a permanent structure to shame when it comes to structural stability.

the Naked House


in a radical open plan system, the naked house consists of rooms that can be rolled into a desired location whenever required.

the curtain wall house


when openness is a client criteria one naturally assumes the application of glass, but here is something original, an idea that lures and involves a dramatic gesture on an architectural scale that opens up a house through a large-scale curtain.

 the Paper-concert hall in L’Aquilla



in a sheer resemblance to the Pantheon in Rome, Ban creates a performance space through  architecture that can be dismantled.


the Onagawa temporary container housing


in pastel hues, the project follows the architect’s philosophy of zero-waste, going green and perfectly serving the purpose.

His comments on receiving the prize, “As long as I can make people happy to use my building,” he added, “I’m happy”.

He certainly means what he says, well just look at this!


the japanese pavilion at the Hanover Expo, 100% recycled!


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