Architect first up for festival

Within the cardboard structure of the cathedral he designed, award-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban opened Christchurch’s biennial writer’s festival with stories of how it came about.

As a child, Ban enjoyed watching his parents renovate their home by hand, to house the many woman who came from outside Tokyo to sew for his fashion designer mother.

These early observations, along with his dislike of throwing things away, led him to recycle materials like the rolls inside fax paper for building.

“It was much, much stronger than I expected,” he told Cantabrians who came to the transitional cathedral last night to hear author Andrew Barrie discuss his newly released book – Shigeru Ban: Cardboard Cathedral – with the architect himself.

The event – using photos, plans and artists’ impressions to assist the one-on-one conversation – was part of the WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival.

After giving up on his dream to excel in rugby, Ban went on to pursue architecture at university in the United States. As a fresh graduate, he returned to Tokyo to build his mother a fashion studio.

He continued researching the use of cardboard and recycled materials, and built his own house after gaining permission from the Japanese government to use it as a permanent building material.

Ban has designed disaster-relief buildings all over the world, and believes architecture plays a role in re-establishing a community.

The WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers festival runs until Sunday, featuring novelists, poets, playwrights, biographers, journalists, and bloggers, like NoViolet Bulawayo, Eleanor Catton, Kristin Hersh, Anis Mojgani, Diane Setterfield, Meg Wolitzer and Damon Young.

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– The Press