Updated: 03/25/2014 23:28 | By Agence France-Presse

Japanese architect Ban says not worthy of top Pritzker prize

The Japanese architect awarded the industry's top prize for his work using cardboard to make temporary housing for refugees and victims of natural disasters said Tuesday he did not feel worthy of the honour.

Japanese architect Ban says not worthy of top Pritzker prize

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, pictured in Christchurch on December 5, 2012, has won the Pritzker Architecture Prize - by Marty Melville

"I haven't achieved that level yet," Shigeru Ban told AFP by telephone from Copenhagen after winning the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The 56-year-old, whose best-known works include a paper cathedral in earthquake-hit Christchurch in New Zealand and temporary housing in Japan following the 2011 quake-tsunami disaster, said he viewed the award as "encouragement" for his work.

Ban, has spent the last 20 years helping design low-cost but dignified housing and community buildings in hard-hit areas. 

He said architects had a "social responsibility", and that his wake-up call came after the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan.

"I was shocked by the situation of refugees and I wanted to bring them help," said Ban. He came up with temporary shelters made of waterproof cardboard tubes with tarpaulin roofing.

The architect, who has offices in New York, Tokyo and Paris, designed the Centre Pompidou-Metz in France but said he found working in Japan easier.

"In France it is difficult. You have to fight... there are cultural differences," he said.

Other Ban projects include Swiss media firm Tamedia's seven-storey headquarters built with an interlocking wooden frame that has no metal joints.

The Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the Pritzker award, highlighted his frequent use of locally-sourced cardboard tubes for columns, walls and beams.

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