This year's Pritzker Prize winner, Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, builds for the greater good. His structures are often made from inexpensive, easy-to-assemble, recycled materials, and his practice is focused more on disaster relief than monumental design. Ban, who won the prestigious architecture award today, is not your typical starchitect.

Ban's designs include shelters for the United Nations in Rwanda, temporary housing and a church made from cardboard tubes in Japan, and housing for tsunami and earthquake survivors in Japan, New Zealand, China, Italy and Turkey.

Besides his humanitarian efforts, Ban has also designed the new building for the Aspen Art Museum, which will open this year, as well as the Centre Pompidou in Metz, France.

"What unites the work, along with a keen interest in the relationship between materials and structural engineering, is a certain frankness, even primitivism," wrote Christopher Hawthorne for the Los Angeles Times. "His buildings are eager to make clear how they're put together."

The architect told Hawthorne of his practice: “The important thing for me is balance, working on normal buildings and also in disaster areas.”

Ban is one of three Japanese artists to bring home the Pritzker in the last five years. 

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