Ban has always been in favor of the sustainability and environmental friendliness and his interest brought him to design simple, easy-to-use shelters for displaced refugees.
He became famous after building a relief structure in 1995 following the Kobe earthquake which took the life of 6,434 people and caused more than $100 billion worth of damage. The Takatori Church was just one of thousand buildings ruined in the quake, but Ban designed a paper-tube church as a temporary replacement. For 5 weeks, 160 volunteers built a structure that ultimately stood for 10 years in Kobe, Japan. The building was so durable that even when the Takatori Church finally received a new building in 2005, the Paper Dome, as it had come to be known, was disassembled and shipped off to Taiwan to be used as a temporary relief structure there after another earthquake.
Though he is most known for his paper materials architecture, Ban has applied the principles of sustainability wherever he can and with whatever means, not limiting himself to paper. He has designed a sustainable museum, known as the Nomadic Museum, which can be assembled from empty shipping containers and stacked on top of one another to form the walls of long warehouses. The structure was built to house the photography and film exhibit titled Ashes and Snow by artist Gregory Colbert. This traveling museum and exhibit has been constructed and displayed in New York City, Santa Monica, California, Tokyo and Mexico City from 2005 to 2008.
Shigeru Ban has been active with humanitarian efforts, designing shelters in Turkey, Rwanda and numerous other places around the world. More recently, he has been designing and building homes for refugees from the devastating earthquake in Haiti, using debris from the rubble to construct paper and cardboard tents.
He was recently awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize and is a guest for Prospect.3 in New Orleans.