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The inventive work of Shigeru Ban, 2017. Installation view, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, 2017. Photo: Brett Boardman.

TIME TO READ: 2m 30s

Renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has built his reputation with pioneering design and, critically, his dedication to humanitarian efforts and disaster relief design around the globe. 

Now the Pritzker Architecture Prize winner is the focus of a new exhibition, presented by the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, titled ‘The inventive work of Shigeru Ban’, his first Australian project.

The Sydney showcase, which runs until July 1st, sees the SCAF’s interior and exterior spaces display the work of a single practitioner for the first time.

The interior gallery features key Ban works, including a scale model of the 2000 Japan Pavilion in Hannover, Germany and a scale model of the 2011 Paper Partition.

The inventive work of Shigeru Ban, 2017. Installation view, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, 2017. Photo: Brett Boardman.
The inventive work of Shigeru Ban, 2017.
Installation view, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, 2017.
Photo: Brett Boardman.

Two of Ban’s signature disaster relief shelters are on display in the Courtyard Garden. One is his first from Kobe, Japan (1995), installed alongside his most recent disaster relief design for the Ecuador earthquake (2016).

A scaled-down version of his 2013 Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand serves as the centerpiece of the exhibition.

Shigeru Ban is perhaps best known in the Asia-Pacific region for his innovative use of paper tubes, such as those used in the Cardboard Cathedral, which opened in 2013, two years on from the earthquake that devastated the Christchurch region.

The inventive work of Shigeru Ban, 2017. Installation view, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, 2017. Photo: Brett Boardman.
The inventive work of Shigeru Ban, 2017.
Installation view, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, 2017.
Photo: Brett Boardman.

The Tokyo native studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts and then at the Southern California Institute of Architecture before he went on to the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York, where he studied under John Hejduk – one of the renowned New York Five (along with Eisenman, Graves, Gwathmey and Meier).

In 1985, Ban established his own firm – Shigeru Ban Architects – that now has offices in Tokyo, Paris and New York.

For more than 20 years Ban has best been known for his extraordinary humanitarian efforts and temporary architecture in catastrophe zones, transforming cheap and locally-sourced materials into disaster-relief housing to disaster-relief housing that “house both the body and spirit”.

As Ban himself explains: “Power and money are invisible, so people hire us [architects] to visualise their power and money by making monumental architecture.

I love to make monuments, too, but I thought perhaps we can use our experience and knowledge more for the general public, even for those who have lost their houses in natural disasters.

In doing so, Ban’s architectural works have provided relief to victims of mass displacement, tsunamis and earthquakes, using structures composed of common and unconventional materials such as bamboo, fabric, paper and recycled composites.

His work in these areas led to him winning the Pritzker Architectural Prize in 2014, the award often referred to as architecture’s version of the Nobel Prize, with the jury citing him as “a tireless architect whose work exudes optimism”.

The inventive work of Shigeru Ban, 2017. Installation view, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, 2017. Photo: Brett Boardman.
The inventive work of Shigeru Ban, 2017.
Installation view, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, 2017.
Photo: Brett Boardman.

As well as disaster relief housing, Shigeru Ban Architects have been responsible for major cultural institutions including Centre Pompidou-Metz in France and the soon-to-be-opened Mount Fuji World Heritage Centre in Japan.

Shigeru Ban Architects: The Inventive Work of Shigeru Ban takes place at Projects 34 & 35 in the Courtyard Garden and Gallery Space at the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation in Sydney until July 1st.

The inventive work of Shigeru Ban, 2017. Installation view, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, 2017. Photo: Brett Boardman.
The inventive work of Shigeru Ban, 2017.
Installation view, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, 2017.
Photo: Brett Boardman.

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