Page E1.1 . 10 May 2006                     
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    Ban Talks to Students

    by Michael Cockram

    As a noted architectural experimenter, Japanese architect Shigeru Ban was a natural choice as keynote speaker to open the student-run HOPES (Holistic Options for Planet Earth Sustainability) conference for 2006 in April. Now in its 12th year, the conference weaves together a mix of architectural scholars, practitioners, and students to promote a deeper understanding of sustainable design issues.

    The conference theme this year was "permanence/ impermanence" the dynamic inherent between things built to last and things built for the moment.

    Traditional Japanese architecture relates to the passage of time differently than modern western architecture. Instead of seen as static and fixed in time, traditional Japanese buildings manifest the passage of time as an integral element being enriched by it as they age.

    Yet many of Ban's buildings have short lives. His paper-tube structures have given him a reputation for innovating with an unusual palette. The Japanese Pavilion for the 2000 Expo in Hanover, Germany, for instance, enclosed an expansive space under a spectacular, undulating vault of lashed-together cardboard tubes. The buildings for that expo were temporary, and Ban saw to it that his structure was recycled after disassembly.

    With self-effacing grace during his presentation, he rejected the label of "sustainable architect" insisting that his goal was to "simply save materials." He is obviously an architect with a conscience, as is evident in his work on emergency housing after the Kobe earthquake and the human-caused catastrophe in Rwanda. His paper-tube structures made temporary housing quick to assemble and beautifully simple.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    A grid of paper tubes encloses the luminous interior of Expo 2000's Japanese Pavilion designed by Shigeru Ban, a keynote speaker at the 2006 HOPES conference.
    Photo: Courtesy Shigeru Ban

    ArchWeek Image

    Paper tubes form the walls of relief housing for the Kobe earthquake victims. Beer crates filled with sandbags form a quick and easy temporary foundation.
    Photo: Courtesy Shigeru Ban

     

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