On Dec. 10, Indian nonprofit Harmony Foundation awarded Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, Hon. FAIA, the 2017 Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice, named after the Albanian-Indian, Roman Catholic nun known for her humanitarian actions. Every year since 2005, the award program recognizes individuals, groups, or organizations who have significantly contributed to elevating peace and social justice through their activism.
For over 20 years, the Tokyo-based architect has worked in the disaster-relief sector, helping those affected by natural disasters with his innovative projects, including Paper Log Houses in Japan (1995), Turkey (2000), and India (2001); a Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand (2013); and prefabricated temporary housing in Kumamoto, Japan (2016). More recently, Ban signed an agreement with the United Nations Human Settlements Program, this past July, to design temporary shelters for the Kalobeyei refugee camp in Northern Kenya.
"Shigeru has made our world a better place through his architectural prowess," said the president of the foundation, Abraham Mathai, in a press release. "His commitment to humanitarian causes through his disaster-relief work is testimony that innovation and compassion is not limited by budget."
Previously, Malala Yousafzai, Dalai Lama, and Caroline Cox, former deputy speaker of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom, have received the award, among many others.