Accidental encounter … Shigeru Ban

“Architecture generally involves creating monuments to permanence from substantial materials like steel and concrete. Yet this year, the discipline’s top award is going to a man who is best known for making temporary housing out of transient materials like paper tubes and plastic beer crates.” – Robin Pogrebin, New York Times


Christchurch, New Zealand, lost its symbolic center when the Cathedral in the center of its downtown collapsed in an earthquake in February 2011. We heard about a “transitional cathedral” on the first day we arrived in Christchurch last month. It was designed by a notable Japanese architect. I didn’t know who.

We stopped by at twilight one evening, having stumbled on it by accident. I had only my iPhone camera, but it worked well in the early dark, even capturing stars above the cathedral building.

The tube support structure, clearly visible at the cathedral entrance.

Today, when the winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize was announced, I learned  the architect of the transitional cathedral is Shigeru Ban, who designs many of his buildings using cardboard tubes and other recycled materials. Click on the link to see the New York Times story, views of the interior of this building, and other buildings he has designed.


The transitional cathedral has a solid presence and quiet stillness that is almost Zen like in emotional effect.


Yet it is clearly temporary. Look at the board and wooden stakes holding the paving in place.

A block behind the cathedral is this temporary memorial to those who died in the Christchurch earthquake.




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2 thoughts on “Accidental encounter … Shigeru Ban

  1. Michael, yes, it was. I also saw a major new project by Patrick Blanc in Sydney, unfortunately while passing in a taxi. I hoped to get back to take photos, but time didn’t permit. I think I first saw that project on Susan Cohan’s blog.

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