Japan wins architecture prize again
JAPANESE architect Shigeru Ban, noted for his airy modernist designs and humanitarian work, has won the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize, the top award in the field, organizers said on Monday.
Mr Ban, 56, is the second architect from Japan to win the US$100,000 (S$127,000) prize consecutively and the third architect in the past five years from the country. Last year's winner was Mr Toyo Ito.
The Pritzker Architecture Prize was created by the late Jay Pritzker and his wife, Cindy, in 1979 to honour the world's most innovative architects.
Mr Ban is, perhaps, best distinguished for his breezy, economical designs, such as the Centre Pompidou museum in Metz, France, with its undulating white roof supported by wooden latticework. His works are known for using low-cost materials that are often locally sourced.
"Mr Shigeru Ban is a force of nature, which is entirely appropriate in the light of his voluntary work for the homeless and dispossessed in areas that have been devastated by natural disasters," Mr Peter Palumbo, Pritzker jury chairman, said in a statement.
Mr Ban, who said he was greatly influenced by the simplicity and efficiency of Japanese carpentry, has also devoted much of his designs to humanitarian efforts.
He first designed shelters from low-cost and reusable items, often in the form of paper tubes, for refugees of the 1994 conflict in Rwanda and also for those affected by the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan. The Pritzker jury cited the works as "simple, dignified, low-cost, recyclable shelters and community buildings for the disaster victims".
Mr Ban said: "When I started working this way, almost 30 years ago, nobody was talking about the environment. But this way of working came naturally to me."