Diébédo Francis Kéré

Principal, Kéré Architecture, Berlin, Germany; Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate (2022)

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    6th Holcim Forum

    “We need to deconstruct preconceived ideas – embracing innovation and locally-sourced materials.” – Francis Kéré Principal, Kéré Architecture, Germany/Burkina Faso at the 6th International Holcim Forum held in Cairo, 2019.

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    6th Holcim Forum

    Conversations on “Re-materializing Construction” complemented the keynote speeches (l-r): Maria Atkinson AM, Founding CEO, Green Building Council of Australia; Francis Kéré, Principal, Kéré Architecture, Germany/Burkina Faso; Anne Lacaton, Principal, Lacaton & Vassal Architectes, France; and Alejandro Aravena, member of the Board, Holcim Foundation.

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    Francis Kéré is Principal of Kéré Architecture (Berlin), winner of the Global LafargeHolcim Gold (2012) and LafargeHolcim Building Better Recognition for Middle East Africa (2017). Photo: Eric-Jan Ouwerkerk.

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    Diébédo Francis Kéré is Principal of Kéré Architecture, based in Berlin, Germany.

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    LafargeHolcim Awards 2017 for Middle East Africa prize handover ceremony, Nairobi

    Presenting the Building Better Recognition Middle East Africa 2017 (l-r): José Cantillana, Area Manager LafargeHolcim for East and South Africa congratulating Francis Kéré, Principal of Kéré Architecture, Burkina Faso/Germany for his school building in Burkina Faso, which won the Global LafargeHolcim Award Gold in 2012.

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    Holcim Awards 2017 for Middle East Africa prize handover ceremony, Nairobi

    The very first Holcim Building Better Recognition was presented to Francis Kéré from Germany for his school building in Burkina Faso, which won the Global Holcim Award Gold in 2012.

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    The Global Holcim Awards Gold 2012 trophy was presented to Diébédo Francis Kéré for "Secondary school with passive ventilation system", Gando, Burkina Faso at the Rolex Learning Center of the EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland.

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    Serpentine Pavilion 2017 designed by Francis Kéré

    “The tree was always the most important place in my village – I want the pavilion to serve the same function: a simple open shelter to create a sense of freedom and community” – Francis Kéré’s Serpentine Pavilion. Photo courtesy: Serpentine Gallery.

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    Serpentine Pavilion 2017 designed by Francis Kéré

    Francis Kéré has configured his London canopy with summer rain in mind, designing the shallow saucer to funnel water into a central opening, where a ring of slender steel trusses will support the great wooden bowl. Photo courtesy: Serpentine Gallery.

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    Francis Kéré (Burkina Faso / Germany), Principal, Kéré Architecture: “The enthusiasm and willingness of the community to participate is essential to the project’s sustainability.”

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    Francis Kéré presents the Global Holcim Awards 2012 Gold winning project “Secondary school with passive ventilation system”, at the launch of Machen! – Die Deutschen Gewinner der Holcim Awards 2011/2012, a new publication of the Holcim Foundation which brings to life the six Holcim Awards 2011/12 prize-winning projects with were submitted by authors from Germany located on three continents.

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    Holcim Awards 2011 Gold winner for region Africa Middle East - Diébédo Francis Kéré, Kéré Architecture, Germany.

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    Holcim Awards 2011 Africa Middle East ceremony, Casablanca, Morocco

    Winners of the Holcim Awards Gold 2011 Africa Middle East for "Secondary school with passive ventilation system, Gando, Burkina Faso" (l-r): Diébédo Francis Kéré and Dominique Mayer, Kéré Architecture, Germany

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    Panel discussion on “Old materials newly installed” (l-r): Eike Roswag, architect, Ziegert | Roswag | Seiler Architekten Ingenieure ; Francis Kéré, architect, Kéré Architecture; and Andreas Ruby, exhibition curator, Ruby Press.

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    “What we are doing here is more than just architecture or development aid.” – Francis Kéré, Global Holcim Awards Gold 2012 winner.

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    Presentation of the Global Holcim Awards Gold 2012 in Lausanne, Swizterland (l-r): Bernard Fontana, CEO, Holcim; Enrique Norten, Principal/Founder, TEN Arquitectos & Head, Global Holcim Awards jury; Rolf Soiron, Chairman, Holcim; Javier de Benito, Area Manager Africa Middle East, Holcim; Dessi Slava, Kéré Architecture; Dieudonné Souguouri, 1st Counselor, Embassy of Burkina Faso in Switzerland; and team from Kéré Architecture including Diébédo Francis Kéré (with certificate).

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    Global Holcim Awards 2012 hand-over ceremony, Lausanne, Switzerland

    Presentation of the Global Holcim Awards Gold 2012 for "Secondary school with passive ventilation system", Gando, Burkina Faso, in Lausanne, Switzerland (l-r): Enrique Norten, Principal and Founder of TEN Arquitectos, and head of the Global Holcim Awards jury congratulates main author of the winning project, Diébédo Francis Kéré, and members of his team, David Jun, Ines Bergdolt, and Hanna Kümmerle.

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    Media conference and prize-handover reception in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (l-r): Rolf Soiron, Diébédo Francis Kéré and Joe Osae-Addo.

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    Global Holcim Awards 2012 hand-over ceremony, Gando, Burkina Faso

    Project author Diébédo Francis Kéré presents the Global Holcim Awards Gold 2012 trophy to more than 3,000 people from the Gando community and neighboring villages who came to welcome him home.

Francis Kéré is Principal of Kéré Architecture, Berlin, Germany; winner of the Global Holcim Gold (2012), keynote speaker at the 6th Holcim Forum in Cairo (2019), and Laureate of the Priztker Architecture Prize (2022).

Last updated: May 31, 2022 Berlin, Germany

Established in 2005, Kéré Architecture has developed an international reputation for its focus on enabling community-supported construction of sustainable and appropriate education facilities that effectively contribute to social development. The design of material-sparing structures with mud bricks and lightweight steel frames are often built by unskilled labour with an elegant economy of means.

Francis Kéré is The Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate of 2022. “His cultural sensitivity not only delivers social and environmental justice, but guides his entire process, in the awareness that it is the path towards the legitimacy of a building in a community. He knows, from within, that architecture is not about the object but the objective; not the product, but the process. His work also reminds us of the necessary struggle to change unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, as we strive to provide adequate buildings and infrastructure for billions in need,” noted the jury.

He is Guest Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (2011-) and Professor at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio, Switzerland (2013-). He was appointed to the newly created professorship “Architectural Design & Participation” at the Faculty of Architecture, Technische Universität München (TUM) (2020-), where he also acts as an expert for the interdisciplinary research network “Simply Build”.

He is a member of the Master Jury 2022 of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

He was born the son of the village chief in Gando, a small village in Burkina Faso. Since no school existed in Gando, he went to live in the city with an uncle at seven years of age. He became a carpenter and received a scholarship to undertake an apprenticeship in Germany as a supervisor in development aid. After completing the apprenticeship, he went on to study architecture including modules in civil engineering at the Technische Universität (TU) in Berlin.

Francis Kéré felt it was his duty to contribute to his family and to the community that had supported him, and to give the next generation the opportunity to follow in his footsteps. As a university student, he built a primary school in his home village and set up the association “Schulbausteine für Gando” to fund the project with the objective of combining the knowledge he had gained in Europe, with traditional building methods from Burkina Faso.

His works in Gando, Burkina Faso include the Primary School (2001), Teacher’s Housing (2003), School Extension (2008), Library (2012), and Secondary School (2012). His first school in Gando received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004 – recognized not only for its innovative construction techniques and expressive care in artisanship but also for being built cooperatively by the Gando community. The follow-up project in Gando, a secondary school, received the Holcim Awards Gold 2011 for Middle East Africa and the Global Holcim Awards Gold 2012. The project received the first ever Holcim Building Better Recognition 2017 in honour of its influence as a realised project that has stood the test of time.

Other works in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Togo and Sudan in Africa as well as in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA include the Dano Secondary School, Burkina Faso (2007); Centre for Earth Architecture in Mopti, Mali (2010); Laongo Opera Village, Burkina Faso (under construction); Léo Medical Center, Burkina Faso (2012); and the International Red Cross & Red Crescent Museum in Geneva, Switzerland (2012). Francis Kéré became the first African architect of the Serpentine Pavilion (2017): a temporary summer pavilion by an international architect or design team who has not completed a building in England at the time of the Gallery’s invitation.

He is a respected authority in the field of architecture, and on the design of buildings to be ecologically- and socially adequate for their environment.

Two historic parliament buildings, the National Assembly of Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) and Benin National Assembly (Porto-Novo, Republic of Benin), have been commissioned, with the latter currently under construction.

He is winner of the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine’s Global Award for Sustainable Architecture (2009); BSI Swiss Architectural Award (2010), the Marcus Prize (2011) Green Planet Architects Award (2013), Schelling Architecture Foundation Award (2014), and the Kenneth Hudson Award for European Museum of the Year (2015). He received the Arnold W Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts & Letters (2017) where he was praised as “an alchemist working with local materials and technology to design buildings of meaning and beauty”. The prize is given to a preeminent architect who has made a significant contribution to architecture as art. He was recipient of the Prince Claus Laureate Award in 2017 highlighting the cultural value and importance of beautiful, sustainable, and empowering architecture. He was named Architektur & Wohnen (AW) Architect of the Year 2021. The jury selected the visionary and designer of the future for his deeply humanistic approach and the gift of seamlessly harmonizing the avant-garde, experimentalism, and optimism.

He received the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture (2021) which recognizes individuals for distinguished contributions to the field of architecture. “Francis Kéré has not only taught the world that architecture and education are for everyone, but also has exemplified how architecture can build capacity in communities, foster environmental and cultural resilience, and inspire creativity while immeasurably serving the public good,” commented Dean of Architecture at The University of Virginia, Ila Berman.

Francis Kéré was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) in 2018, recognising the importance of socially and environmentally responsible architecture. “Since I started, I always tried to incorporate the people and their environment in my designs and being recognised for it sends the message that it is important,” said Francis Kéré.

He was named in the 100 Most Influential People of 2022 by Time Magazine. The citation by David Adjaye stated that “Francis Kéré has built a career out of making places that have a transformative impact on the way in which communities and societies see and serve themselves. He is a trailblazer for his long-standing commitment to formalizing space for both social and environmental good, and in this sense his legacy lives not just in his built work but also in his general practice and methodological spirit.”

His architectural work has been the subject of solo exhibitions: Radically Simple at the Architecture Museum, Munich (2016) and The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community, Philadelphia Museum of Art (2016). His work has also been selected for group exhibitions: Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010) and Sensing Spaces, Royal Academy, London (2014).

He was an expert in the workshop Local resources - Leveraging regional skills and metabolism at the 4th Holcim Forum “Economy of Sustainable Construction” held in Mumbai (2013). He is winner of the Holcim Awards Gold for Middle East Africa (2011), Global Holcim Awards Gold (2012), and the Holcim Building Better Recognition for Middle East Africa (2017).

Francis Kéré was a member of the Holcim Awards jury for Africa Middle East (2014) and of the Global Holcim Awards jury (2018). He was a keynote speaker at the 6th International Holcim Forum for Sustainable Construction held in Cairo, Egypt (2019).