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"Architectural works and humanitarian activities" - Shigeru Ban

jumpthegap®(talk) led by Shigeru Ban took place at Roca Barcelona Gallery last April 29th.

The inspiring talk given by the renowned Japanese architect started the series ‘Architecture in crisis areas’.  

Shigeru Ban, who stands out for offering sustainable and environmentally committed architectural proposals, focused his talk on the current debate about the millions of displaced people who do not find a dignified place to settle until they return home. Ban made a review of his more important works telling the story behind them and explaining the use of materials and the creation of each of the structures, all this under the attentive gaze of young students of architecture and design and professionals of the sector.



Shigeru Ban (Japan, Tokyo) – Winner of the Pritzker Prize 2014. Chosen for his innovative use of materials and his humanitarian efforts all around the world. He not only builds monumental buildings and architectural works, he also erects emergency housing for the most disadvantaged or for victims of natural disasters.

Time magazine has defined him as one of the leading characters in the world.

He stands out for the use of non-conventional materials, such as paper or plastic. He likes these materials because they are affordable (low-cost), easy to replace, basic, they do not generate waste and are recyclable. Many of the houses he builds are temporary, designed to cover the basic needs of those affected by natural disasters and wars. With these projects he has proved that the use of simple materials can serve a purpose.


After seeing that three million refugees lived outdoors in Rwanda (1994) he proposed United Nations a structure of tubes to avoid deforestation in Rwandese forests, since United Nations felled trees to build huts. Since then his work has combined architecture and the use of minimum materials. Many have defined his work as social architecture.

He has signed an agreement with UN-Habitat –the UN agency in charge of promoting sustainable human settlements– to design 20,000 new homes in the Kalobeyei refugee camp in Kenya. 

He is the founder of Voluntary Architects Network (VAN), which focuses its work on disaster relief. Its work is extensive and very close to the reality of people’s problems, having built everything from beautiful but simple works to monumental ones.