The Pritzker Architecture Prize went to Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, it was announced on Monday.
Ban won for his inventive ways of creating temporary housing out of available materials in countries hit by a natural disaster, including in Rwanda, China, Haiti, Japan, and others, reports The New York Times.
The Pritzker Prize is often considered the Nobel of architecture awards and was first launched in 1979.
Speaking with the Times by telephone, Ban explained, “I’m trying to understand the meaning of this encouragement. It’s not the award for achievement. I have not made a great achievement.”
The Prize jury said Ban was chosen because of the humanitarian element in his work. “His buildings provide shelter … for those who have suffered tremendous loss and destruction.” The jury added that “when tragedy strikes, he is often there from the beginning.”
According to TIME, the 56-year-old Ban is the second Japanese architect to win in as many years. Toyo Ito was awarded the prize last year.
He does not work exclusively in places hit by natural disaster, Ban also designs modernist-styled buildings. The Japanese architect is responsible for the Rotterdam Rose Art Museum, the Center Pompidou-Metz in France and Colorado’s soon-to-be opened Aspen Art Museum.