Shigeru Ban, a renowned architect with an international design firm, is most famous for his novel use of recycled and low cost materials in design. Ban studied at the Cooper Union School of Architecture under famed Architect John Hejduk. Using his background in Japanese architecture, and influenced by Hedjuk’s western school of thought, Ban embraces both the western and eastern building forms in his design ideology. Ban favors a simplified floor plan stressing continuity between rooms and rational spaces.
Ban’s most notable contribution to the architecture world are his experiments using paper and cardboard as a major building material. Not interested in the most high tech new materials and methods, Ban instead opts for simple low tech materials that are cheap and easy to replicate. Several of his designs implement cardboard tube structures for relief housing. Ban, himself having a humanitarian slant, often convinces local companies to donate building materials. In Japan, after the Kobe earthquake, houses using recycled Kirin Beer crates were constructed for around $2,000 each.
The Naked House, in Saitima, Japan takes the open floor plan to the extreme. Constructed of nylon and plastic sheeting attached to a wooden framework, The house was built with the mandate that “the house provides the least privacy so that the family members are not secluded from one another.” Featuring reusable materials and an open floor plan with movable walls, the house showcases Ban’s hallmark thrift with materials and combination of western and eastern architectural traditions.
Essentially, Ban’s approach to architecture is to make something out of as little as possible. It may mean using materials such as repurposed plastic, shipping containers, or cardboard tubes. In building form this minimalism expresses itself as simple open floor plans, using structural elements in design, and novel manipulation of materials.
How is Shigeru Ban’s use of materials and form unique among designers and how does it related to everyday repurposing around the world?
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