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“I didn’t only want to work for privileged people”

Architect Shigeru Ban speaks with Dean Martha Thorne and Associate Dean David Goodman from IE School of Architecture and Design at IE University during the 2021 Hay Festival

Architect Shigeru Ban speaks with Dean Martha Thorne and Associate Dean David Goodman from IE School of Architecture and Design at IE University during the 2021 Hay Festival. Photo: Roberto Arribas, IE University

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban speaks about sustainability, climate change and the role of architecture at IE University during the Hay Festival.

 

A 2020 UNEP report warns that the international built environment sector contributes almost 40% to carbon emissions globally. Without transforming the way we plan, design, build, operate and adapt our built environment, it will be impossible to truly address climate change.

Within this context, and in the lead up to UN World Habitat Day and COP26, voices like those of Japanese architect and Pritzker Prize winner Shigeru Ban are increasingly important in the discussions around how we can address climate change and build stainable, carbon-neutral, inclusive cities and towns.

On Friday, 17 September, the Shigeru Ban joined Martha Thorne, Dean of the IE School of Architecture and Design, and David Goodman, architect, professor and Associate Dean at the Hay Festival in Spain, where together, they discussed the issues and impact of sustainability on architecture and design.

For over 20 years, Shigeru Ban has been concerned with the impact of the built environment. His architectural practice explores the innovative use of sustainable materials—he is particularly well known for his pioneering use of cardboard tubes in building construction—and his designs are conceived so as to be easily constructed and dismantled, then used again.

The architect shared details of several of his more recent projects, including the Tainan Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan, which is defined by its pentagon-shaped roof inspired by the flower of royal poinciana; one of the world’s largest timber structures, the Swatch headquarters in Biel, Switzerland; and what he laughingly referred to as one of his most popular projects, the two public toilets he designed for the Tokyo Toilet project, which feature transparent glass walls that become opaque when they are occupied.

Dean Martha Thorne and Associate Dean David Goodman from IE School of Architecture and Design at IE University during the 2021 Hay Festival

Dean Martha Thorne and Associate Dean David Goodman from IE School of Architecture and Design at IE University during the 2021 Hay Festival. Photo: Roberto Arribas, IE University

A consultant to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and founder of the NGO Voluntary Architects’ Network, which supports disaster relief around the world, Shigeru Ban is currently an ambassador for the EU New European Bauhaus, along with Olafur Eliasson, Bjarke Ingels and Sheela Patel.

During the conversation with Martha Thorne and David Goodman, the architect described the motivation behind his work with recyclable materials, and how he has used cardboard for temporary structures designed for emergency use, such as the shelters constructed for Rwandan refugees in the 1990s, and those built for survivors of the 1995 earthquake that devastated the Kōbe area in west-central Japan.

IE School of Architecture and Design is privileged to collaborate Shigeru Ban in the coming year on an educational initiative with architecture and design students at IE University and further details will be announced shortly!

 

Explore a full archive of Shigeru Ban's architectural projects

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Watch the conversation with Shigueru Ban at the Hay Festival

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