Diébédo Francis Kéré’s approach combining technologies and local materials
Piazza Costituzione 4
World-famous architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, founder of the practice Kéré Architecture, will be taking part in the Cersaie 2017 “building, dwelling, thinking” programme with a conference held in the Architecture Gallery (Gallery 21/22) at 4.00 p.m. on Thursday 28 September.
Born in Gando in Burkina Faso, Kéré was awarded a scholarship to apprentice in Germany, where he went on to earn a university degree in architecture and engineering. In parallel with his studies, he founded the Kéré Foundation (formerly Schulbausteine für Gando e.V.) to fund the construction of the Gando Primary School, which won the prestigious Aga Khan Award in 2001. Kéré continues to reinvest knowledge back into Burkina Faso and sites across four different continents. He has developed innovative construction strategies that combine traditional materials and building techniques with modern engineering methods. Since founding Kéré Architecture in 2005, his work has won numerous prestigious awards such as the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, BSI Swiss Architectural Award, Marcus Prize, Global Holcim Gold Award, and Schelling Architecture Award.
The project for Gando Primary School was completed in July 2004. It is based on design principles that ensure climatic comfort and cut costs by exploiting local materials and the potential of the village community. Subsequent projects included houses for primary school teachers, an extension of the primary school, the Dano secondary school, renovation of the National Park of Mali in Bamako and the Centre for Earth Architecture in Mopti, Mali. Mario Botta, chairman of the jury of the BSI Swiss Architectural Award, described his architecture as essential and intelligent, noting how it actively engages the local community in improving living conditions in a poor country like Burkina Faso.
Kéré was also chosen to design the 2017 summer pavilion of the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, London. The design is inspired by the trees of the architect’s native village in Burkina Faso and brings visitors into constant contact with the surrounding gardens. Like every year, the Serpentine Pavilion hosted people, events and performances as well as the gallery’s summer programme. In the evening it was transformed into an enormous illuminated lantern, a kind of microcosm that fuses cultural references of Burkina Faso with experimental construction techniques.
Kéré was granted the honour of chartered membership of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 2009 and honorary fellowship of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) in 2012. He has held professorships at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio in Switzerland. He recently received the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial award in architecture, an accolade that is granted each year by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for significant contributions to architecture as an art form.