Shigeru Ban Builds with Paper
|Wednesday, 01 February 2012 18:07|
by Elizabeth Nielsen
Shigeru Ban once said, “My architectural practice is about people’s emotional connection to the buildings they occupy, and I strive for a unified relationship between the structure and the landscape.” Ban’s desire to provide emotional connections to architecture and unified relationships with landscape even includes the building materials he uses, which are wood pulp or paper. Even more beautiful is that Ban uses his talents to give back to the earth by recycling paper into artistic, durable, renewable structures.
His beautiful paper buildings express elegant simplicity and arise from the earth begging us to ask ourselves, “what is my relationship to the environment?” Luckily, Ban’s commitment to the earth is right before eyes, guiding us towards the ideal. One word describes Ban’s dedication to improving people’s lives by using the intrinsic beauty and natural materials of the earth - meiyo, which means honorable. His architecture is honorable art.
Because of his designs and the materials he used, Ban was able to house many earthquake victims within a short amount of time. He has done the same for people in Rwanda, Sri Lanka, China and Turkey. Italy is next. When designing for those in need, Ban wants to insure that people are comfortable, that they enjoy the space and that they are given adequate privacy. He considers culture, light and community in every building he erects. Therefore, Ban considers the land upon which he will build, the climate of those he will house, and the environment in which they are surrounded.
Ban’s architectural shapes reflect nature. His “Paper House” in Yamanashi, Japan, is a magnificent, temporary edifice built with as many sustainable materials as possible, is formed into an “S” shape, resembling a wave. The wave form repeats in his “Japan Pavillion,” built for Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany. It repeats again in his “Japan Industry Pavillion,” built for the Shanghai Expo in 2010, with an even stronger statement. In this exquisite building, waves elegantly ripple within and without. The wave structures beg for metaphorical comparison to Ban’s influence on the world; his waves are never-ending, just like the ocean.
The similarities to nature are exhibited in other buildings as well. His “Paper Tower,” built in London in 2009, is shaped like an evergreen tree, which symbolizes life. His “Papilion Pavillion”, built in Elysses, France in 2006, uses the symbol of flowers, particularly those with seeds that blow on the wind, to spread the beauty for miles. All these natural forms act as metaphors for Ban’s influence in the architectural community.
Ban uses natural light throughout his designs allowing sunlight to pour through his roofs and arbors, taking form and working symbolically on those inside. The “Paper Arch,” in particular, fills with light and shadow in exquisite patterns.
His “Curtain House,” built in Tokyo, Japan in 1995 is an example. This home allows its residents to pull back a white curtain to unwrap their glass house, thus allowing the world outside in. His “Quinta Botannica,” built in Portugal in 2009, is another example. Here living space opens up to show a reflecting pool and surrounding gardens.
Community is another strong consideration inn all of Ban’s design. His intention is for us is to interact within, reaching out to one another and understand that we are all inhabitants here. He wishes us all to consider humanity on the same scale as he does. He recommends that young people travel and refrain from relying on computers to discover the world. The natural lighting he incorporates in his designs inspires us to see each other more clearly.