The 2022 laureate of Architecture’s highest honor, the Pritzker Architecture Prize is Diebedo Francis Kere, known as Francis Kéré, Burkina Faso-born architect, educator, social activist, also, the receiver of the 2004 Aga Khan Award for Architecture and designer of the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion.
The work of Francis Kéré stands out because it shows that there is hope and that architecture can be universal and democratic. Francis was the 1st African architect to design the Serpentine Pavilion. However, the procedure of vast architecture production features an array of projects in which local tradition brings a consistent exploration to innovative ways of building.
Early life of Diebedo Francis Kere
Diébédo Francis Kéré is a German-trained architect from West African town of Gando in Burkina Faso. As the 1st son of the head of his village, he was the only kid allowed to attend the academy. After excelling in his studies, Kéré had rewarded with a scholarship to apprentice in Germany. He then observed the Technische Universität in Berlin where he earned his diploma in Architecture and Engineering. While still a student, Kéré founded the Kéré Foundation in 1998.
Parallel to his studies, he began to grow money for the aim of building a school in his home village. Despite major financial and logistical challenges, Kéré set his focus towards reinvesting his learning back into his home community in Burkina Faso. Also, using his proper training as an architect, he formed strategies for creative construction by connecting traditional Burkinabé building methods and materials with modern engineering methods. In order to realize his goal, Francis Kéré partnered closely with his community, demonstrating to them the possibility and potential for creation that could benefit their village for years to come.
Working across continents from Africa to Europe, we strive to hire localities in our design and construction approach. Our principles of providing more with less foster creation and resourcefulness in our training, using local materials, local knowledge, and local technologies to create holistic and sustainable design explanations. We believe that architecture can be a conveyance for collective expression and empowerment, which is why we work closely with local communities in all phases of design from planning to structure. By supporting the educational, cultural, and civic needs of local gatherings with provocative and dignifying design, we will continue to raise understanding towards the sustainable and economic issues facing populations in rural Africa and beyond.
Projects of Diebedo Francis Kere
Here are some projects by Burkinabè architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, who has been named this year’s laureate of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.
1.Gando Primary School, 2001, Burkina Faso – project of Diebedo Francis Kere
Firstly, Gando Primary School was the first project and beneficiary of Kéré Foundation e.V. (est. 1998) and marks the architect’s inaugural built work. However, his ideology is to create a wellspring with and for a community to achieve actual needs and redeem social inequities. His advocacy for a child’s right to a comfortable classroom stems from his own experiences, sitting in crowded, stifling, facilities that were poorly ventilated and lit.
Here, indigenous clay was fortified with cement to form bricks with high thermal mass, retaining cooler air inside while allowing heat to run through a brick ceiling and wide, overhanging, elevated roof, resulting in ventilation without the mechanical intervention of air conditioning. Remnant building materials are always used to create classroom furniture. The success of this project increased the school’s student body nearly six-fold, from 120 to 700 students, catalyzing Teachers’ Housing (2004, Gando, Burkina Faso), and Extension (2008, Gando, Burkina Faso), and Library (2010, Gando, Burkina Faso).
2. National Park of Mali, 2010, Mali
The National Park of Mali, situated between the National Museum of Mali and the Presidential Palace, reopened in 2010 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the nation’s independence. The 103-hectare park, situated within a 2,100-hectare protected forest reserve, reopened with the architect redeveloping eight existing facilities on site, including two entrance gates, a welcome center, restaurant, youth sports arena, public toilets, and kiosks. However, elements remain consistent throughout the various buildings, one of which is constructed atop a natural rock formation, and all of which blend into the local topography. Indigenous stone provides thermal mass and references locality, coupled with wide, detached, overhanging roofs, to facilitate passive cooling systems. Also, some buildings, equipped with air conditioning, feature sealable roof systems.
3. Opera Village, 2010, Laongo, Burkina Faso – project of Diebedo Francis Kere
Conceived in collaboration between Kéré and the late Christoph Schlingensief, Opera Village is a utopian and evolving masterplan, honoring the “idea of something perpetually unfinished and continuously developing,” while initiating a prosperous relationship between opera and a small village. Currently unbuilt, the opera house is central, surrounded by a spiral of buildings already realized, including artist workshops, housing, a health center, and a school.
4. Centre for Health and Social Welfare, 2014, Laongo, Burkina Faso
The Center for Health and Social Welfare is part of the system of buildings within Opera Village. Additionally, constructed of local clay and laterite stone, with eucalyptus wood and overhanging roofs, the structure’s materials present elements of aesthetic consistency throughout the complex. Also, the 3 interlocking units, providing services of gynecology and obstetrics, dentistry, and general medicine, are linked through shaded courtyards that are used as waiting areas. As a result, the fenestration offers a design of framed windows at variable heights to offer picturesque views of the landscape for everyone, from a standing doctor to a sitting visitor to a lying patient.
5. Surgical Clinic and Health Centre, 2014, Léo, Burkina Faso
Ten modular units compose the Surgical Clinic and Health Centre, which provides surgical, maternity, and in-patient services through the organization Operieren in Africa E.V. In addition to signature uses of indigenous materials, wide overlapping roofs, and fenestration to accommodate varying vantage points, environmental sustainability is furthered through the collection of greywater. Moreover, treated with oxygen through solar energy, greywater is compiled with rainwater to irrigate the landscape.
6.Lycée Schorge Secondary School, 2016, Koudougou, Burkina Faso – project of Diebedo Francis Kere
Located in one of the more populated cities of Burkina Faso, Koudougou, Lycée Schorge Secondary School serves as a provincial landmark for its aesthetic grades. However, 9 modular structures are arranged radially, showing a center ring of flexible gathering space for performance, celebration. Also, local laterite stone, yielding high thermal mass, was created into bricks to build the modules. A detached and overhanging corrugated metal roof saves the exterior materials from the rain while shielding the building’s inhabitants from natural elements. From within, vaulted ceilings of white perforated plaster distribute good lighting beneath the direct sun while heat runs through wind towers. As a result, from the periphery, vertical eucalyptus wood forms an edge, offering shady intermediary spaces for students and teachers.
7. Serpentine Pavilion, 2017, London, United Kingdom
A temporary structure located in Kensington Gardens, Kéré’s Serpentine Pavilion. As a result, that takes its central shape from a tree and disconnected, yet curved walls are created by triangular indigo modules, identifying with a color symbolizing strength in his culture and more privately, a blue boubou garment worn by the architect as a kid. The detached roof resonates with those of his buildings in Africa, but inside the pavilion, rainwater funnels into the center of the structure before irrigating the landscape to highlight water scarcity that is experienced worldwide.
8. Benga Riverside School, 2018, Tete, Mozambique
Benga Riverside School is located at the confluence of the Revúboé and Zambezi rivers. However, the campus contains a nursery and primary school, with a layout designed to shelter its young occupants physically and figuratively. Administrative offices are at the entrance, with classrooms situated further back. Also, walls are patterned with small recurring voids throughout, allowing light and transparency to evoke feelings of trust from its students. A secondary school will follow.
Also, Read Tadao Ando- The Architect of Light
9.Léo Doctors’ Housing, 2019, Léo, Burkina Faso – project of Diebedo Francis Kere
Léo Doctors’ Housing accommodates medical residents and volunteers, supporting the vision of the Surgical Clinic and Health Centre. However, that fosters the exchange of knowledge between visiting experts and their local physicians. Also, 5 modular residences are composed of compressed stabilized earth blocks and coated with plaster, shielding the interiors from the heat and the exteriors from weathering deterioration. Additionally, the units, arranged in a curved orientation, share a landscaped courtyard and water lily pond, which supports its own ecosystem of insects and flora.
10. Sarbalé Ke, 2019, California, United States
Sarbalé Ke, originally designed for Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, translates to “House of Celebration” in Kéré’s native Bissa language and references the shape of the hollowing baobab tree, revered in his homeland for its medicinal properties. Created of steel and colorful wooden triangular panels, 3 large central baobab towers serve as a focal point and for the larger assembly. While smaller towers allow for an intimate gathering. The pink, orange, and blue exteriors adopt the palette of the sunrises and sunsets cascading through the surrounding mountains, while filtered light creates interior shady respite by day and illumination by evening.
11. Xylem, 2019, Montana, United States
Inspired by the tuguna, a sacred wood and straw community gathering space located in many small Burkenabè villages. Xylem at Tippet Rise Art Centre constructed almost entirely of raw, local, sustainable pinewoods. Clusters of logs are seemingly suspended overhead, “grouped in circular bundles within a modular hexagonal structure in weathering steel, supported by seven steel columns.” Subtle rays of the light filter into the pavilion, while curvilinear seating at varying heights offers spaces to stand, lounge, and lay, so users may experience sprawling views from different vantage points. Visitors may converse, meditate, or contemplate in the shelter, while immersed in the natural environment of this art center, located on a 12,000-acre cattle ranch within the backdrop of the Beartooth Mountains.
Also, Read The Pritzker Architecture Prize 2021
12. Burkina Institute of Technology, Phase I, 2020, Koudougou, Burkina Faso – project of Diebedo Francis Kere
Burkina Institute of Technology is a result of the success of Lycée Schorge Secondary School, offering not only an extension of the campus but post-secondary academic opportunities. “[It] is designed using a system of repeated modules, housing classrooms and auxiliary functions, arranged orthogonally to define a rectangular courtyard. Also, the orthogonal arrangement of staggered modules allows the campus to expand incrementally according to its needs and air to flow through the central void, creating a space where the students can relax and interact.” The facility composed of cooling clay walls that cast in-situ to accelerate the building process. Overhanging eucalyptus, regarded as inefficient due to its minimal shading abilities yet depletion of nutrients from the soil, were repurposed to line the angled corrugated metal roofs, which protect the building during the country’s brief rainy reason. Rainwater has collected underground to irrigate mango plantations on the premises.
13. Startup Lions Campus, 2021, Turkana County, Kenya
Startup Lions Campus addresses the need for local, post-secondary education and vocational training. “The building takes inspiration from the towering mounds built by termite colonies in the region. The ventilation tower creates a stack effect to naturally cool the main working spaces by extracting warm air upwards. While fresh air introduced through specially designed low-level openings.” It has become a recognizable landmark in the region. That situated on a sloping landscape and surrounded by large shading trees. Also, the school has constructed local quarry stones to create comfortable gathering conditions indoors and outdoors and minimize the use of air-conditioning.
14.Burkina Faso National Assembly, In Progress, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
After the Burkinabè uprising in 2014 destroyed the former parliament building, the new Burkina Faso National Assembly. That has commissioned by former President, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, enabling new views, physically and metaphorically. However, the focal point is a stepped and latticed pyramidal building, housing a 127-person assembly hall on the interior. While encouraging an informal congregation of its citizens on the exterior. Also,this building is one piece of a greater master plan, envisioned to include indigenous flora, exhibition spaces, courtyards, retail, and a monument to those who lost their lives in protest of the old regime.
Also, Read Renzo Piano: Ecological Innovator
Ideology of Diebedo Francis Kere
“A structure of grace, warmth, and sophistication, in sympathy with the local climate and culture. The practical and the poetic are fused. [It] inspires pride and instills hope in its community, laying the foundations for the advancement of a people.”
“I am hoping to change the paradigm, push people to dream and undergo risk. It is not because you are rich that you should waste material. It is not because you are poor that you should not try to create quality. Everyone deserves quality, everyone deserves luxury, and everyone deserves comfort. We interlinked and concerns in climate, democracy, and scarcity concerns for us all.”
“I grew up in a community where there was no kindergarten, but where the community was your family. Everyone took care of you and the entire village was your playground. I remember the room where my grandmother would sit and tell stories with a little light, while we would huddle close to each other and her voice inside the room enclosed us, summoning us to come.”
Awards recieved by Diebedo Francis Kere
- Aga Khan Award for Architecture (2004)
- Global Award for Sustainable Architecture (2009)
- BSI Swiss architectural Award (2010)
- Marcus prize for architecture (2011)
- Holcim Awards Gold 2011 Africa Middle East
- Global Holcim Awards 2012 Gold
- Schelling Architecture Award (2014)
- Kenneth Hudson Award for European Museum of the Year (2015)
- American Academy of Arts & Letters Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize (2017)
- Prince Claus Laureate Award (2017)
- Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture (2021)
- Pritzker Architecture Prize (2022)