Shigeru Ban has been selected as one of the winners of the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice. The award, established by the Harmony Foundation in 2005, honors individuals and organizations that promote peace, equality and social justice. Past winners include the author of Another Man's War Sam Childers, Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, and the Dalai-Lama.
Ban is the first Japanese person to win the prize, and one of the rare architects to be honored as well. Fellow honorees this year include, among others, the Hellenic rescue team for its work during the refugee crisis in Greece, and the Christian priest, Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was held captive by Islamic extremists in Yemen.
The Pritzker Prize-winning architect has been honored by the organization for his continuous efforts in disaster relief. The Japanese designer has become best known for his temporary structures—often made out of transient materials like plastic beer creates—that have provided shelter, community centers, and spiritual places in the aftermath of natural disasters in places like Rwanda, Turkey, India, China, Haiti and Japan.
Often referred to as Architecture's First Responder, Ban's notable works include a temporary shipping container housing and community center in Onagawa, Japan built following the 2011 earthquake; his first “Paper Log House,” which used cardboard tubes as walls and beer crates weighed down by sand bags as foundations; and his disaster relief shelters made from green bamboo following the earthquake in Ecuador last year.
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