The Rolex Awards for Enterprise
Renowned for promoting sustainable architecture in his native Africa and internationally, Diébédo Francis Kéré focuses his work on the usage and development of local materials and techniques, the innovative adaptation of traditional and new technologies, and the involvement of local communities. “Only those who are involved in the development process can appreciate the results achieved, develop them further and protect them,” says Kéré. Born in the village of Gando, Burkina Faso, the world’s seventh least-developed country, Kéré was the first son of the headman and therefore the only child to attend school. After graduating, he received a scholarship for an apprenticeship in development aid in Germany and went on to study architecture at Berlin’s Technical University. During this period, he founded the non-profit Schulbausteine für Gando (School Blocks for Gando), to raise funds in Germany for a series of buildings and other projects in his village. Gando Primary School, his first building, was finished in 2001 and received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004, the same year he finished his architecture studies and a year before founding Kéré Architecture. Based in Berlin with an affiliate in Burkina Faso, the firm creates economic and ecological building solutions for local situations in a global context. Among Kéré’s many and varied projects have been the Secondary School, under construction in Gando, which won the Global Holcim 2012 Gold Award for its design, and a permanent exhibition space at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva (2012). A respected authority on designing ecologically sound buildings, Kéré teaches at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio, Switzerland, and has been a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the University of Wisconsin. He lectures widely, including on “Architecture as a Social Catalyst”, at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Image credit: © Noshe
Published in 2014