Posts tagged shigeru ban
10 x 10

Recently, browsing the unremitting, unceasing id of the internet that is Twitter, I stumbled across an interesting gem posted by the good folks over at Houslets. It was a link to an obscure 13th-century Japanese text by a Bhuddist ascetic, Kamo no Chōmei. Once a successful and wealthy poet for the imperial court, a series of political setbacks and natural disasters gradually pushed Chōmei into seclusion. The essay, The Ten Foot Square Hut (Hōjōki), describes his sequential downsizing, from his father's house, to a cabin by the river, and, eventually, at the age of sixty, a hut just ten feet to a side. 

Often described as an Eastern analogue to Henry David Thoreau's WaldenHōjōki is similarly famous for its opening lines:

"Though the river's current never fails, the water passing, moment by moment, is never the same. Where the current pools, bubbles form on the surface, bursting and disappearing as others rise to replace them, none lasting long. In this world, people and their dwelling places are like that, always changing."

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Shigeru Ban, Pritzker Laureate

About a week ago, Shigeru Ban was announced as the 2014 Pritzker Laureate. Established in 1979 by Jay and Cindy Pritzker, the yearly award honors a living architect for "whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture." The Pritzkers, native Chicagoans, made a fortune at the helm of the Hyatt hotel chain, and modeled the award on the Nobel prizes. Laureates receive a $100,000 cash prize and a bronze medallion. 

In the past, the award has mostly honored older (at least in their sixties) architects for producing a solid collection of major buildings, pushing forward the field through form and theory. It's always been a sort of inside-baseball prize, for "architect's architects", those of weighty monographs and leaky roofs. Some, like Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid, were better known for their writings and drawings, and used the validation of the prize to win some major commissions. Grumblers referred to them as "paper architects," more famous for unbuildable, extravagant thought experiments than built work. Ban has turned that sly derogative on its head, rising to acclaim because many of his buildings are literally made from paper. 

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