Shigeru Ban: Humanitarian Architecture Dallas Center for Architecture 1909 Woodall Rodgers Freeway Dallas, Texas Through April 25 The Dallas Center for Architecture is presenting a selection of Pritzker Prize winning architect Shigeru Ban’s disaster relief designs. Ban’s humanitarian architecture has confronted some of the world’s most devastating natural and manmade cataclysms in the last 20 years. The Japanese architect is known for his pioneering designs for United Nations refugee shelters in the mid-1990s, using inexpensive and often recycled materials such as paper tubes and cardboard to make durable, shock-proof structures. Projects on view include the Tsunami Reconstruction Project (2005, Sri Lanka), Onagawa Community Center (2011, Onagawa, Japan, pictured above), Cardboard Cathedral (2013, New Zealand), and Paper Nursery School (2014, Yaan, Japan). Complementing the exhibition is a film screening on April 8 of a 2006 documentary about Ban, Shigeru Ban: An Architect for Emergencies. The film features extensive interviews with the architect about the practical, philosophical, and aesthetic aspects of his work. The exhibition is held in collaboration with Austin College, which will present Ban with the 2015 Posey Leadership Award at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science on March 26.
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[ Editor’s Note: The following reader-submitted letter was left on archpaper.com in response to our critique of Shigeru Ban’s Aspen Art Museum (AN 05_10.15.2014_SW). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email email@example.com. ] Deja vu all over again. Your article is a thoughtful critical review. I add a few observations. It is always interesting when the architect attempts to explain away results by alluding to the client not allowing him to do something, therefore something not so good was done. A knowledgeable client is always a great aid to a project, and unenlightened clients can thwart good ideas, and unambitious clients can have different agendas, but no architect is forced to do something bad. At worst, certain good ideas are not implemented, and when that happens the project design must be rethought so that the result is at least coherent. There is a disturbing tendency these days (shades of Edward Durell Stone) to hide issues of irresolution in buildings by the application of a screen. In this case, it [Aspen Art Museum] fails at hiding the sins and robs the passerby of a sense of scale and what could be a richness of detail. As a result it reminds one of a wicker basket dropped over the top of something else. Moreover, the idea of wood being the only material which can relate to mountains boggles the minds of many, the great Swiss architects not the least of them. The design of the roof space frame is interesting but there seems absent from the result any rational justification for clear span. Museums are marvelous opportunities: a synthesis of light, systems, movement, and modulation of space. Paradise Lost, once more. Harry Wolf Harry Wolf Architect
On Saturday, August 2, I had the opportunity to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony and member's opening of the new Aspen Art Museum (AAM), designed by this year's Pritzker Prize winner, Shigeru Ban. The event took place at the tail end of AAM's annual ArtCrush festival, which gathers artists, art collectors, curators, gallery owners, celebrities, and philanthropists from around the world to celebrate contemporary art and raise money for the museum through an auction. While the museum opening was well timed to take advantage of the glut of luminaries in town for ArtCrush, it did catch the building itself—Shigeru Ban's first permanent museum project in the U.S.—at an awkward moment in terms of its construction. Workers were still finishing up the last details—including installing a piece by Jim Hodges called With Liberty and Justice For All (A Work In Progress) that will occupy the sidewalk—but it was intact enough to get a good impression of what visitors will experience when it opens to the general public on August 9. To kick things off with a bang, AAM commissioned New York–based artist Cai Guo-Qiang to put together a day-time firework display known as Black Lighting, which was spectacular, though a little frightening in its resemblance to artillery fire. While you can wait for my critique of the museum (coming soon) for a full run-down of the design, the basic concept was to integrate the building respectfully within the built fabric of Aspen while at the same time taking full advantage of the natural beauty of its Rocky Mountain setting and providing ideal spaces for displaying an ever changing array of art. AAM is not a collecting institution. Its director, Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, is always on the search for the next upcoming artist, and thus the gallery spaces had to offer a lot of flexibility. Shigeru Ban stacked three floors of galleries against the party wall (one below grade, two above), wrapped them in circulation and offices (at the back), enclosed it all in a white metal and glass curtain wall, and then wrapped the street faces (it's a corner lot) with a woven Prodeema screen whose wood veneer offers a warm, hand-crafted expression that cozies up to Aspen's masonry and timber context. (Front Inc. provided facade consulting services. The architect of record is Cottle Carr Yaw of Basalt, Colorado.) The screen is not uniform. Its apertures are larger toward the corner and top of the building, providing the best views there, while concealing the emergency stair and back of house spaces at the opposite ends. A glass elevator at the corner allows visitors to look out at the surroundings as they ascend or descend. A grand stair between the screen and glass curtain wall provides access directly to the top of the building, where there is a cafe and terrace/sculpture garden. (For the opening the terrace was occupied by another Cai Guo-Qiang installation called Moving Ghost Town, which involved a sort of barnyard pen where two African Sulcata tortoises with iPads mounted to their shells were free to wander, or hide their heads in the dirt, as one found it fit to do throughout the reception. The iPads played video that the tortoises had "filmed" while wandering through a nearby Colorado ghost town.) The rooftop/top floor spaces can be open to one another or closed off, depending on the weather, by way of a manually operated sliding glass wall. Another stair just inside the curtain wall, which mirrors the one outside, provides direct access to the gallery spaces. The idea behind this circulation scheme is that, like on Aspen's ski slopes, visitors can climb to the top before "sliding" down through the exhibition spaces. Structurally, the building is made up of a composite system that includes post-tensioned cast-in-pace concrete (which offered the most efficient floor-to-floor dimensions (about 16 feet), allowing the architects to provide 14-foot-high ceilings (to the bottom of the beam) in the gallery spaces while fitting the building within Aspen's 47-foot height limit), exposed structural steel pipes, and an exposed timber space frame for the roof. The timber space frame is, in my mind, the highlight of the architecture. Fabricated by Spearhead Timberworks in British Columbia, it features three types of wood: spruce chords, birch web members, and Douglas fir end caps. The webs have curving profiles that create flat interfaces with the top and bottom chords of the truss. This allowed the connection between web and chord to be made with a single steel screw—as opposed to a gusset plate connection—driven in from above so that it is invisible from below, giving the impression that it is an all-wood structure. Ventilation ducts, sprinklers, and lighting integrate well within the space frame structure as well. Four out of the six galleries feature some access to daylight, while two are completely artificially lit. (L'Observatoire International designed the lighting scheme.) This was one aspect where the collaboration between Shigeru Ban and Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson shows. Heidi originally wanted black box spaces where she could have total control over the lighting, in keeping with at least the past 50 years of curatorial thinking and gallery design in this country. Shigeru, however, convinced her (after a tour of naturally lit gallery spaces) that she could have the control she wanted while taking advantage of the dynamic qualities natural light. After all, art is created in natural light. Another place the collaboration shows is in the openness of the building (see the roof) and the variety of ways in which one can traverse it. Shigeru reportedly at first wanted a very controlled circulation sequence, providing one way to proceed through the museum, but Heidi put her foot down, explaining that in the U.S.A., especially in the West, people expect a little more freedom of movement.
The Pritzker Architecture Prize has named Shigeru Ban its 2014 laureate. AN executive editor Alan G. Brake sat down with Ban at the Metal Shutter Houses, a luxury apartment building he designed in Manhattan’s Chelsea gallery district. He discussed influences from California to Finland, the social role of architecture, and what the recognition means for his work. As a former Pritzker juror did you ever expect to be in the position of being a laureate yourself? Not this soon. Also I know I have not made such achievements yet compared to other laureates, so I was not expecting it at all. You are considerably younger than some of the other laureates; tell me where you see yourself in terms of your career. I knew about the reason why I was chosen, and I knew that the reason was quite different from other laureates. It was an encouragement for me to continue to do the kind of social work as well as making projects like museums and others, so I try to keep a balance between other kinds of projects and working in disaster areas. So I’m taking it as an encouragement rather than the award was for such achievement. How did you first begin working in disaster areas? After I became an architect I was quite disappointed in our profession because we are mainly working for privileged people. Even historically this is the same, because money and power are invisible people with money and power hire architects to make a monument—to visualize their power and money for the public. I thought we could solve more for the public, for society, but it was not so. I thought there was an opportunity for me to use my experience, my knowledge for the difficult situations, like natural disasters—though I must say natural disasters are no longer natural. It’s our responsibility, and there were no architects working in disaster situations, because we are too busy working for the privileged. I’m not saying I’m not interested in making monuments, but, as I said, I wanted to use my knowledge and experience to help the people who lost their houses. And I thought we might make even better temporary housing. So the first time I started working in Rwanda in 1994 after the crisis, I proposed the idea of using cardboard tubes, paper tubes for the shelter construction for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. I was contracted to develop this idea further. Do you see other architects beginning to work in this field? Especially in the Northern Japan earthquake and tsunami, many architects started working in the disaster area. But when I was working in Kobe in 1995 there was no one. Also, when I give lectures in many different countries, I get a good reaction from younger architects and from students. They are interested in our activities, they want to join us. The situation is changing. Is that something that you feel is part of your role as an architect, to pull the profession more toward social issues or more toward everyday people? Yes, yes, I do. There’s a wonderful sense of invention in your work and every project is approached in a new way. Can you talk about how you begin? Actually, I don’t invent anything new. I always use an existing material in a new way. Paper tubes are not a new material. In this building we have metal shutters. This is an existing material. So I try to use existing materials differently, with more meaning or more function, instead of just inventing something new. It’s also interesting, learning from context, using local materials. And I always look for a problem to solve through design, instead of making some sculpture. How do you approach space or structure, some of the other fundamental aspects of architecture? Even as a student, I hated to be influenced by others. Always there’s a fashionable style, Baroque, or neoclassicism, or postmodernism. I didn’t like being influenced by the fashionable style, the style of the day. But in history I looked at Buckminster Fuller or Frei Otto, they made their own structural system or developed their own materials to make their own kind architecture. I was dreaming as a student to make my own structural system, this is why when I started using the paper tubes, made of recycled cardboard, even concrete buildings can be destroyed by earthquakes, but my buildings made of paper tubes can be permanent. I thought by using weaker materials or humble materials I can make some different type of architecture, taking advantage of the weakness of the material. With steel, it’s very flexible and strong. You can make any shape. With a paper tube, it’s so weak, and you can’t make just any form out of it. You have to find out what is an appropriate way of using it. Louis Kahn used to always ask his students, in his famous lecture, “Mr. Brick, what do you want to be?” And he said, “I want to be an arch.” So with the paper tube, which is a weak material, I have to find an appropriate way of using it. You can’t make everything from paper tubes. It’s not a perfect material. The limitations give me the idea to make an appropriate form out of this kind of material. Looking back on your career thus far, what are the breakthrough buildings for you in terms of developing your thinking about architecture? The Kobe project was kind of an important project for me, in terms of deciding my life’s work on disaster relief work, but I suppose for an architecture style or system, in the earlier period I designed a number of low cost houses, I called them “case study houses.” After I finished high school I came to the U.S. and the first school I went to was Sci-Arc in California. I fell in love with the so-called Case Study Houses, and Schindler, Neutra, Craig Ellwood, and so on. And I felt they had some Japanese influence. Because I didn’t study architecture in Japan, my first kind of Japanese influence came through those Case Study Houses. So in my early period I designed the so-called Curtain Wall House, the Walrus House, the Naked House, the House with a Double Roof. Many of these were low-cost housing with a special way of using an existing material or making a space connect to the inside/outside, so those case study houses helped to make my direction. Because before that I had some influence from Cooper Union, some influence from John Hejduk and the New York Five. But in order to get out from this movement from my school, I started to use the structure and development of materials to establish my own style. So this interest and approach to materials has really been there from the beginning. Yes, yes. Because in the beginning I was working on low-cost houses, I didn’t want to make a cheap house. So working with humble materials I could make something interesting instead of just making a cheap house with a low budget. That’s why I had some ideas of using everyday, low-cost materials differently. You are now the seventh Japanese laureate. That speaks very highly of the culture of architecture in Japan. Can you talk a bit about what you draw from Japanese architecture culture and how you deviate from it? First of all, I don’t know if I should be considered a Japanese architect, because I didn’t go to school in Japan and I’m working every where in the world, and also I’m not part of any school in Japan, and I don’t just mean universities. In Japan there are many schools, the Tange School, for example. And I didn’t work for any Japanese architects, except I worked for Isosaki for one year when I was a student. It was an internship almost. So I’m not part of this society. I didn’t have any public projects. The first opportunity came from France, the Pompidou Centre, and from the U.S., the Aspen Art Museum, and so all of those former Japanese laureates became very famous in Japan, they made public projects and then they started working abroad. But my case is different. Why did you decide to study in the U.S.? When I was in high school, when I was seventeen, I happened to see the Japanese architecture magazine A+U, they had a special feature on John Hejduk and Cooper Union, and I was amazed by his work. So that is why I came to the U.S., without speaking English. But there was no information, no internet, so I had to come to the U.S. to find out that Cooper Union does not accept foreign students. But I found out I could apply as a transfer student, so I had to look for a school I could enter and transfer to Cooper. I happened to find SCI-Arc. It was a brand new school, maybe three years old, founded by Raymond Kappe. It was very exciting how they renovated an old factory into the studio, so I applied, and I was very lucky to be interviewed by Ray Kappe. I didn’t speak English very well and he was very kind to accept me, and then after two and a half years I applied to Cooper Union. What did you do after you graduated? Well, I couldn’t graduate immediately because I had a big fight with Peter Eisenman, and so I had to extend my thesis. But I went back to Japan and began working for a very famous Japanese photographer, Yukio Futagawa, as his assistant. And I went with him to Europe, to visit Alvar Aalto’s projects, which I wasn’t interested in at all at Cooper Union. When I went to Finland to see Aalto it was a big shock to me; his use of local climate, of materials, his craftsmanship. Also, I organized an Aalto exhibition in Japan—and that was when I began working with paper tubes, because wood was too expensive. What was it that was so eye opening? The Villa Mairea. It’s in harmony with the climate, the context, and it takes advantage of many different kinds of warm materials, and also light. The light was so beautiful. But you know, in the International Style context was not so important nor was using natural materials, so Aalto’s was a completely different kind of architecture. How did you get your first project? After I finished at Cooper Union I wanted to go to graduate school in the U.S., but my mother asked me to design a small building for her boutique, so I decided to go back to Japan just to finish my mother’s building before coming back to the U.S., but I also organized three exhibitions, including the one on Alvar Aalto, which was brought from MoMA. And while I was doing these exhibition designs and working on the building for my mother, I started working on a small villa project and I became too busy, so I gave up coming back to the U.S. Also, it’s interesting in Japan, Japan is the only country, where even the middle class people hire architects to design even a small house. In a developing country or in a developed country, rich people hire architects to design big houses, but in Japan there is so much opportunity for young architects to design small houses. That’s really great training for us. Obviously your interest in disaster relief housing has been very important to you and very important to architecture. What are some other areas where architects should be doing more? I think in education. Many famous architects don’t teach, but I think teaching is very important. For me I had Raymond Kappe, Tod Williams, Ricardo Scofidio, Diana Agrest, Bernard Tschumi, John Hejduk. It was an incredible experience. And I can’t give them anything back, the only thing I can do is give the same thing to the younger generation. If I didn’t have great professors, I wouldn’t be here.
In the summer of 2013, Mt. Fuji was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. The designation was of the cultural rather than the natural variety, in part because of the way the mountain has "inspired artists and poets." Japanese architect Shigeru Ban plans to add a quite literal architectural chapter to this legacy of inspiration in the form of a visitor center commemorating the mountain's recently-minted status. Ban's design takes Fuji's iconic silhouette as its centerpiece and then inverts it, generating an upside-down lattice cone surrounded by a 46,000-square-foot glass cube. The building is set to be located in Shizuoka prefecture of Japan and will offer views of the nearby mountain. A surrounding pool of water reflects the structure's central cone, restoring the right-side up vision of its formal source material. A committee lead by the Ohara Museum of Art selected Ban's plan ahead of 238 competing entries for the project. Construction on the $23.5 million structure will begin in 2015.
For those traveling the architecture/museum circuit, one of the next important excursions is definitely Shigeru Ban's Aspen Art Museum, which will open in August. Located in the city's downtown core, this will be Ban's first U.S. Museum. The building's gridded composite facade allows for open views inside, inviting people inside and filling the interior (including 14-foot-tall galleries) with natural light. Inside a three-level grand staircase ascends past two ground floor galleries, sandwiched between the exterior grid and the interior structure. Art will be displayed here on mobile pedestals.Around this spine the museum's Tetris-like design will be punctuated with complex but rectilinear geometries, "walkable skylights," a tube-frame roof structure, a large glass elevator, and several unique galleries. On top a roof deck sculpture garden will provide uninterrupted views of the city and of the nearby mountains while also showcase exhibitions and contain a cafe, bar, and outdoor screening space. The museum's several inaugural exhibitions will include a show on Ban Himself, Shigeru Ban: Humanitarian Architecture, with four full-scale examples of the architect's designs for disaster relief.
Renderings for Shigeru Ban's rooftop addition to a landmark Tribeca building have been revealed. Newly recast as a luxury residential space, the 132-year old cast-iron building located at 67 Franklin Street at Broadway is set to receive a new metal-and-glass-clad cap. This twin duplex penthouse will be joined by a revamped interior also designed by the Japanese architect. The existing structure will be filled by 11 duplex apartments. Since purchasing the space in 2002, Knightsbridge Properties president Jordan Krauss undertook a three-year effort to restore the cast-iron details that are the distinctive feature of the building. Ban was recruited in order to add modifications that would "work in harmonious dialogue with the existing structure." The penthouse he envisioned in response to this task will feature a Vierendeel truss (invented by this man) that will allow for first-floor glass doors to be opened up entirely, thus creating uninterrupted expanses between interiors and surrounding terraces. While images have yet to be released, the new design for the interior is said to feature extensive amounts of white lacquer and a bamboo-filled garden courtyard. In 2012 Ban pitched his plans for an addition to an adoring Landmarks Preservation Commission, with one panel-member gushing that the proposal was breathtaking. While the recently revealed renderings may or may not produce quite that kind of reaction today, the apartments they represent are expected to demand prices in the $12 to 15 million range. The Ban design may soon be joined by a number of other projects slated to adorn historic Manhattan rooftops.
As a result of a devastating earthquake in February 2011, New Zealand's Christchurch Cathedral was left critically damaged. After an inconclusive debate about whether to completely tear down, restore, or remodel the original Neo-Gothic cathedral, the people of Christchurch were struck with what might be divine inspiration in the form of a temporary home, the world’s only cathedral constructed extensively of cardboard. Tourism New Zealand announced the inauguration of Cardboard Cathedral, a replica of the original church constructed of cardboard tubes, timber joints, steel, and concrete. Shigeru Ban, a Japanese architect and a leader in "Emergency Architecture,” designed the transitional church as a testimony to the city’s resourcefulness and resolve following the earthquake and aftershocks. The structure involves a triangular profile constructed from 98 cardboard tubes surrounding a colored triangular glass window in the great hall that features images from the original façade’s rose window, which collapsed completely in December 2011. The main hall has a 700-person capacity for events and concerts. To further incorporate recyclable materials, the temporary cathedral also includes eight steel shipping containers that house the chapels. Designed to last for at least the next two decades, Cardboard Cathedral will remain in place while the original cathedral’s fate is determined. Recently, the rebuilding of the damaged cathedral has been a controversial topic, as critics have already shot down two contemporary designs, deeming them “bizarre” and “architecturally illiterate,” and have called for the building to be restored to its gothic form, originally designed by George Gilbert Scott in the latter half of the 19th Century. Projected to open in December of last year, the Cardboard Cathedral was subject to a sequence of construction delays and was not officially opened until last week. To celebrate the opening of the cathedral and its architectural splendor and acoustic potential, Joyfully Un-Munted, a concert series of opera, jazz and traditional music is being held through August 15, 2013.
The latest Shigeru Ban paper tube building has opened at IE University in Madrid, Spain. Elsewhere, Ban built the paper tube Nomadic Museum in New York City on a Hudson River pier in 2007, a Camper retail store in New York's Soho neighborhood, and now in Christchurch, New Zealand he is constructing an A-Frame cathedral out of the temporary, eminently efficient material. The Madrid University building took only two weeks to build, is based on sustainability objectives, and there was a requirement that it be a temporary construction. It is made of 173 paper tubes held together by timber joints that rest on paper columns. “One of the main challenges in any project is that the design must take into consideration the specific characteristics of the location. In this case, we used an existing wall and kept the pavilion as far as possible from the adjacent building,” Shigeru Ban said in a statement. “I try to use local firms for my work. In this case the tubes, for example, were made in Zaragoza.” Shigeru Ban also pointed out that students from IE School of Architecture took part in assembling the paper tubes, and underscored how important it was as an educational experience for them.
Shigeru Ban's Tokyo office is developing temporary housing structures for those displaced by the natural disaster in Japan, reports Archinect; click here to help support the project. Stateside, AIA president Clark Manus issues a statement encouraging U.S. architects to do all they can to support Japanese recovery efforts. The New York Times covers Forest City Ratner's plan to use prefab building components for a 34-story apartment building at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Engineered by Arup and designed by SHoP, the units should be pretty high-end as far as modular housing goes, but construction workers argue that the prefab approach will mean less jobs. The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy trumpets the news that twelve of the master's houses are currently on the market (starting at $800k for the Arnold and Lora Jackson House in Beaver Dam, WI), via Design Crave. Acorn Media announces that the acclaimed BBC "Genius of Design" series is available on DVD. The five part documentary focuses on the highlights of industrial design throughout the twentieth century and beyond.
If you happen to be a fan of Kurt Anderson's wonderful radio show Studio 360, perhaps you tuned in this weekend for the trip to Japan, a fascinating account of a place that seems at once otherworldly and yet so much like our own. If not, dare we suggest you tune in for the whole hour. Or, at the very least, consider the wonderful segment on Japanese design. In it, Anderson interviews architectural master Shigeru Ban and the up-and-coming couple behind Atelier Bow-Wow, as well as a fashion designer and a poet. At issue is that undeniable "Japanese-ness" that undergirds their work and that of their country, how it is shaped by their tiny, overcrowded island and, more recently and perhaps importantly, the economic collapse of the 1990s.
If you've got some extra cash this year—and really, who doesn't?—why not invest in architecture? Not the pricey, unlikely-to-be-built, brick-and-mortar kind. We're talking about 2D architecture, the kind you can hang on your wall. Shigeru Ban, Daly Genik, Hodgetts + Fung and Michael Maltzan are just a few of the architects you could have in your home by Christmas, thanks to this auction where you can bid on their drawings and renderings, with all the proceeds going to SCI-Arc. Opening bids start at $250, so send an email to Lynn_Ordinario AT sciarc.edu if you'd like more detailed descriptions and images of the offerings, or to place your bid. But hurry! Bidding closes tomorrow, Friday, December 12 at 5pm PST, and Eli Broad has his eyes on a few of these, we swear. 1) CHENGDU HUALIN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Shigeru Ban, Shigeru Ban Architects Framed Size: 15.5” h X 19” w Media: Pencil on paper 2) FREEZE Hsin-Ming Fung, Hodgetts + Fung Framed Size: 17.5” h X 41” w 3) HOLLYWOOD ROOFTOP Christopher Genik, Daly Genik Architects Framed Size: 16.5” h X 24.5” w 4) UNTITLED Michael Maltzan, Michael Maltzan Architects Framed Size: 11.25” h X 13.5”w Media: Ink on paper 5) MEDIACORP CREATIVE CAMPUS, SINGAPORE Wolf Prix, Coop Himmelb(l)au Framed Size: 13.5” h X 21.5” w Media: Ink on paper 6) LINEWORKS SERIES 1 AND 2 Marcelo Spina, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S Framed Size: 13.5” h X 21.5” w Media: Ink on paper 7) BOARDWALK Stanley Tigerman, Tigerman McCurry Architects, Ltd. Framed Size: 11.75” h X 13.75” w Media: Ink on paper 8) TAIPEI PERFORMING ARTS CENTER Tom Wiscombe, Emergent Framed Size: 19.5” h X 25.5” w