and the city
Shigeru Ban is a genius devoid of a colossal ego a man filled with an insatiable taste for beauty, an artist whose tremendous respect for nature can be witnessed all around the world. Among the plethora of qualities he embodies, one can only praise the architect’s upmost wish to design edifices in harmony with their environment.
Tale of a prolific nomad
There was once a little boy who decided he would one day become an architect. The 12-year old who previously made the model of a house that swirled around and lit up for a craftwork class has now metamorphosed into Japan’s most prolific architect and the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Pritzker prize. However, wandering from the glorious mountains of Nepal to the lively cities of France, Japan or North America Shigeru Ban defies all expectations, is reluctant to follow trends and fancies breaking the rules. The generous mind behind museums, company headquarters, airports, hotels, arenas and schools is a craftsman whose ambition is to shape a new organic architecture within the city. If he has a peculiar fondness and great respect for raw materials, his most faithful partner remains wood, a matter that he masters like no other. Observe his work and contemplate the wide wood structures connecting interior and exterior which enfold the surrounding nature, the clear ceilings that allow the delicate natural light to softly infiltrate the premises. Admire how he combines his gift with an eagerness to recycle pre existing materials such as cardboard, paper or old beer crates. And witness his endless energy when he moves across the globe if a disaster strikes so he can build housing for victims of natural catastrophes. Indeed, there really is no architect like Shigeru Ban.
An avalanche of tranquillity
There is something quite enthralling and formidable about Shigeru Ban’s creations mostly made of beautiful solid woods. it because the Tokyo native cares more about the love he pours into his projects than the materialistic side of it? For there are not merely buildings but works of art that soothe the soul. The “Paper Architect” as he is nicknamed has now become one of the most famous architect working with wood from sustainable forests. From the Aspen Art Museum to the Centre-Pompidou Metz, the timber buildings offers warmth thanks to its abundance of colours whose names sound like poems, Willow, Sycamore, Yellow Birch, Soft Maple… Thus, when you step into his world of gentle curves, you will sense a natural equilibrium flowing from the pure and smooth lines. From the mastermind’s imagination and his appreciation for wood, every edifice transcends calm and serenity, softness and grandeur. Because in Shigeru Ban’s world there are no distractions but an overwhelming sensation of harmony. Whether you smell the generous perfume or relax at Kur Park Nagayu in Japan, you bask into an organic cocoon where you feel at one with the world.
Wood as pillar of the earth
The uniqueness of his body of work relies on his exceptional affinity with organic and adaptable matters such as paper, bamboo or sand. Gently, as if he wanted to remind us all that nature always prevails, Shigeru Ban has even developed a taste for disposable architecture such as the hemispherical paper tube structure designed as a temporary theatre in Amsterdam. However, wood remains a distinctive component connected to his poetic vision of a new urban life. Under his guidance, the humble material becomes malleable and Shigeru Ban, the magician can entwine, mould, chisel it as he wishes. One can only marvel at the phenomenal Mt. Fuji World Heritage Centre’s latticed wood, the bamboo dome in Tongji University or the paper teahouse in London. When it is born from Shigeru Ban’s inspiration, the wood – whether it’s glulam or cross-laminated timber- feels marvellously alive. Hail to the king for once again, wood rises from the soil to reclaim its noble place
Photo credits :
Image 1 (left) : Cris Cantón Photography
Image 1 (right): Roméo Balancourt
Image 3 (right) : Jay’s photo