Architect, educator and social activist, Kéré has been selected as the 2022 laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture’s highest honour
Léo Doctors’ Housing. Photo courtesy of Francis Kéré
Words by Sonia Zhuravlyova
Born in Gando, Burkina Faso, and based in Berlin, Diébédo Francis Kéré is known for empowering and transforming communities through the process of architecture. Through his commitment to social justice and engagement, and intelligent use of local materials to connect and respond to the natural climate, he works in countries where architecture and infrastructure are often absent and resources are limited.
His projects include schools, health facilities, professional housing, civic buildings and public spaces. Gando Primary School in Burkina Faso, for instance, was built in 2001 with and for its community. Its contemporary design combats extreme heat and poor lighting conditions, while the work itself created opportunities for local citizens, from conception to craftsmanship training.
Gando Primary School. Photo courtesy of Erik-Jan Owerkerk
Indigenous clay was fortified with cement to form bricks with bioclimatic thermal mass, retaining cooler air inside while allowing heat to escape through a brick ceiling and the wide, elevated roof, resulting in ventilation that doesn’t need mechanical air conditioning. The success of this project increased the school’s student body from 120 to 700, and led to more projects in his home village, such as housing for teachers and a library.
Kéré is behind many more notable projects, which show an understanding of bioclimatic environments and take into account site-specific sustainability, such as the Burkina Institute of Technology and the Startup Lions Campus in Turkana, Kenya. ‘I am hoping to change the paradigm, push people to dream and undergo risk,’ says Kéré. ‘Everyone deserves quality, everyone deserves luxury, and everyone deserves comfort. We are interlinked and concerns in climate, democracy and scarcity are concerns for us all.’
Diébédo Francis Kéré. Photo courtesy of Lars Borges
‘Francis Kéré is pioneering architecture – sustainable to the earth and its inhabitants – in lands of extreme scarcity. He is equally architect and servant, improving upon the lives and experiences of countless citizens in a region of the world that is at times forgotten,’ says Tom Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award.
‘Through buildings that demonstrate beauty, modesty, boldness and invention, and by the integrity of his architecture and geste, Kéré gracefully upholds the mission of this prize.’
Photography courtesy of Pritzker Architecture Prize
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