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Francis Kéré: the first African to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize

In March 2022, the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize was awarded to Mr Diébédo Francis Kéré, a Burkinabè well renowned architect based in Germany.


Due to his extensive body of works, Kéré is the first African and the first black person to receive the distinguished Pritzker award since its creation in 1979.


Being born and raised in a locality which had no schools, Kéré was the first child in his community who attended school at age 7.


The lack of ventilation and light in the vicinity, along with the fact that he had over a hundred classmates occupying the classroom for hours at a time are what made Kéré vow to making school in Burkina Faso better.


Not only he accomplished that, but he went beyond his vow. Indeed, it is in year 2004 that Kéré started operating as a licenced Architect, contributing in designing several buildings.


Photo 1: Gando's primary school (Source: https://www.kerearchitecture.com)


Such works include:


  • Works in Burkina Faso and in Africa

Kéré was raised in a city called Gando, which had no school. Gando’s Primary school was designed and built in 2001 by and for the people of Gando, under the supervision of Kéré.


Despite Kéré not officially being officially an architect yet, such building was built through a use of indigenous material (concrete, local clay, etc.) along with modern engineering.


After building the Gando primary school in Burkina Faso, other facilities throughout Africa have followed. Such facilities includes additional primary, secondary, high schools and medical building in Eastern Africa.


Kéré is also known to have designed and built other facilities such as civic buildings and public spaces in countries including but not limited to Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, and Sudan.



Photo 2: Benin National Assembly House (Source: https://www.kerearchitecture.com)


  • Other works across the world

In 2017, the Serpentine pavilion in London’s Hyde Park was designed by Kéré.


Furthermore, he was amongst the teams of architects who have designed the Geneva’s International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum.


Kéré has also contributed in designing and building other temporary and permanent structures across several Western countries including Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland and the United States of America.


Photo 3: London's Hyde Park Serpentine Pavilion (Source: https://www.kerearchitecture.com)


  • Other awards

Though the Pritzker award is the most prestigious award in Architecture, it is important to note that Kéré’s expertise in the architectural sector had already been recognized through several awards.


Indeed, he has previously been awarded with:


1. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture

2. Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine’s Global Award for Sustainable Architecture

3. The BSI Swiss Architectural Award

4. The Global Holcim Awards Gold

5. The Schelling Architectural Award

6. The Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture

7. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture


With such outstanding record, not only Kéré has been a visiting Architect professor in several world prestigious universities of Harvard and Yale, but he also holds highly esteemed chair of the Architectural Design and Participation of professorship at the University of Munich.


Not only Kéré’s dream to improve the schools in his home country came true, but his architectural skills are a gift he has put at the service of people. Such service includes the design and the construction of facilities, but also the transmission of such passion and skills.


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