The Japanese architect Shigeru Ban (Tokyo, 1957) has been awarded the 2022 Princess of Asturias Award for Concord. The specialized press has considered him "the great activist of architecture" and has achieved international prestige for being able to give quick answers and effective in the form of shelters and temporary housing to extreme and devastating situations caused mostly by natural disasters.
These responses materialize in high-quality designs, conceived based on unconventional and reusable materials, and in constructions in which privacy and aesthetics are important factors because, in Ban's opinion, they contribute to improving the psychological state of its inhabitants. .
A pioneer in the eighties of environmental awareness and sustainability, he was also concerned with expanding the role of the architect, cooperating with governments, communities affected by some type of disaster, public organizations and philanthropists. In 1995 he was appointed adviser to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and founded the Voluntary Architect's Network (VAN), an NGO to transform the concept of temporary housing for emergency situations.
Plastic, wood, fabric, paper and, above all, cardboard are his allies when designing his emergency architectures, in which the priority is maximum respect for the future inhabitants of these spaces and for their dignity. With cardboard, Ban designs cylinders that, after receiving a polyurethane treatment, become a solid base for erecting structures at a minimum cost.
The design of an Alvar Aalto exhibition for MoMA (New York) in 1986 served him to experiment with those paper tubes. Later, he used them in prototypes of temporary houses to accommodate refugees in Rwanda –after the 1994 genocide– or in Kobe (Japan) –after the 1995 earthquake–. This system has also been used for the construction of privacy spaces for Ukrainian refugees on the border with Poland during the crisis caused by the Russian invasion. Currently, it is studying the possibility of replacing steel structures with the lightness and resistance of carbon fiber, which would facilitate transport, storage and assembly.
Pritzker Prize in 2014 and doctor honoris causa from the Technical University of Munich (Germany, 2009) and the New School (USA, 2011), Shigeru Ban has received the Gold Medal of the French Academy of Architecture (2004) and the awards of Architecture Arnold W. Brunner Memorial of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2005) and AIJ (2009), granted by the Institute of Japanese Architecture, among other recognitions.
The jury for this Award was chaired by Adrián Barbón Rodríguez, President of the Principality of Asturias, and made up of Fernando de Almansa Moreno-Barreda, Viscount of Castillo de Almansa, Ernesto Antolin Arribas, José Antonio Caicoya Cores, Manuel Contreras Caro, Sol Daurella Comadrán , Ignacio Eyriès García de Vinuesa, Isidro Fainé Casas, José Antonio Fernández Rivero, Luis Fernández-Vega Sanz, Ana González Rodríguez, Alicia Koplowitz Romero de Juséu, Laureano Lourido Artime, Marcelino Marcos Líndez, Adolfo Menéndez Menéndez, Enrique Moreno González, Carlos Navalpotro Fuster, María del Pino Calvo-Sotelo, Marc Puig Guasch, Gregorio Rabanal Martínez, Helena Revoredo de Gut, Matías Rodríguez Inciarte, Juan Sánchez-Calero Guilarte, Gonzalo Sánchez Martínez, Antonio Suárez Gutiérrez, Gonzalo Urquijo y Fernández de Araoz, Manuel Villa- Cellino Torre, Maarten Wetselaar, Ignacio Ybarra Aznar and Pedro de Silva Cienfuegos-Jovellanos (secretary).