Diébédo Francis Kéré‘ is an African architect who was born in 1965. He belongs to Burkina Faso which is one of the world’s least educated and impoverished nations. There is a lack of basic facilities such as clean drinking water, electricity and proper infrastructure. Hence, there is no great development in the field of architecture as well. Diébédo Francis Kéré’ says that there was no kindergarten for the children. It is taught and imbibed right from birth that the entire community is like one’s own family. The entire village is like a playground for the children. There is no such sports complex for them. The village has been built together by the residents.
How Diébédo pursued Architecture
Diébédo Francis Kéré’ is the eldest son of the village chief and hence he was the first child to attend school in his village. The school was situated in Tenkodogo city so he had to step out of the house at the age of seven. The school was made up of cement blocks and it lacked proper light and ventilation. There were a hundred classmates under one roof. The climatic conditions were not so good and led to suffocation. This is when the architect decided to make the school better. According to the conditions in Burkina Faso, an example of good architecture limits itself to having proper climatic comfort, light and ventilation and basic human comfort for better learning and teaching. In 1995, he received a scholarship for vocational carpentry training conducted in Berlin. There he learnt how to make roofs and furniture. He also attended his secondary classes at night. He received a scholarship to Technische Universitat in Berlin, Germany, in 1995, where he pursued an advanced degree in Architecture.
Diébédo Francis Kéré’s social works and projects
Diébédo Francis Kéré had set up a foundation known as “Schulbausteine fur Gando”, which means “school building blocks for Gando”. Later on, the foundation was renamed Kéré’ foundation e.V. in 1998. The purpose of the foundation was to fundraise and advocate for a child’s right to sit and learn in a comfortable classroom. The first building that he designed was Gando Primary School, situated in Gando, Burkina, Faso. The school was built in 2001. It was built by and for the people. The residents had put their efforts, labour and resources. The entire process of making concepts of the building to its execution was crafted by hand and carried out by the community. The architect used indigenous materials and modern engineering to carry out the construction.
His ideology and philosophy
Gando Primary School received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004. This award was the reason which boosted him to start his firm in Berlin in 2005. Kere managed to provide all kinds of facilities such as primary, secondary, post-secondary and medical facilities, in many areas of Africa, namely, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mozambique and Uganda. The works which he did for the society comprised providing academic education to children, increasing medical facilities for the ill, creating occupational opportunities and allowing vocational skills for the adults. His ideology is to work for the welfare of the community. He used his purposeful ideas, technical knowledge, environmental understanding and aesthetical solutions the most. He thinks that service to humanity is his duty. To work for the community is like improving the quality of life of various people.
Projects and Awards received
His work was expanding day by day and it went on from schools to temporary and permanent structures in African countries and many other countries like Denmark, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Two of the historical buildings are sanctioned under him for construction, namely, the National Assembly of Burkina Faso and the Benin National Assembly. He has received several awards for his phenomenal work such as Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine’s Global Award for Sustainable Architecture (. Other awards include the BSI Swiss Architectural Award, the Global Holcim Awards Gold, Schelling Architecture Award, Arnold W Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture.
The architect has also been serving as a visiting professor in many famous universities such as Harvard University Graduate School of Design (Massachusetts, United States) and Yale School of Architecture (Connecticut, United States). He holds the inaugural Chair of Architectural Design and Participation professorship at the Technische Universität München (Munich, Germany) since 2017. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (2018) and the American Institute of Architects (2012) followed by him being a chartered member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (2009). He holds dual citizenship in Burkina Faso and Germany where he spends his time equally, both in person and professionally.