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Diébédo Francis Kéré Receives the 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize

by Tania Wannenburg
Diébédo Francis Kéré Receives the 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize

Diébédo Francis Kéré, architect, educator and social activist, has been selected as the 2022 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, announced Tom Pritzker, Chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award that is regarded internationally as architecture’s highest honor . “I am hoping to change the paradigm, push people to dream and undergo risk . It is not because you are rich that you should waste material .

It is not because you are poor that you should not try to create quality,” says Kéré . “Everyone deserves quality, everyone deserves luxury, and everyone deserves comfort . We are interlinked and concerns in climate, democracy and scarcity are concerns for us all .” Born in Gando, Burkina Faso and based in Berlin, Germany, the architect known as Francis Kéré empowers and transforms communities through the process of architecture .

Léo Doctors’ Housing, photo courtesy of Francis Kéré

Through his commitment to social justice and engagement, and intelligent use of local materials to connect and respond to the natural climate, he works in marginalized countries laden with constraints and adversity, where architecture and infrastructure are absent . Building contemporary school institutions, health facilities, professional housing, civic buildings and public spaces, oftentimes in lands where resources are fragile and fellowship is vital, the expression of his works exceeds the value of a building itself . “Francis Kéré is pioneering architecture – sustainable to the earth and its inhabitants – in lands of extreme scarcity .

He is equally architect and servant, improving upon the lives and experiences of countless citizens in a region of the world that is at times forgotten,” comments Pritzker . “Through buildings that demonstrate beauty, modesty, boldness and invention, and by the integrity of his architecture and geste, Kéré gracefully upholds the mission of this Prize .” Gando Primary School (2001, Gando, Burkina Faso) established the foundation for Kéré’s ideology– building a wellspring with and for a community to fulfill an essential need and redeem social inequities . His response required a dual solution – a physical and contemporary design for a facility that could combat extreme heat and poor lighting conditions with limited resources, and a social resoluteness to overcome incertitude from within the community .

He fundraised internationally, while creating invariable opportunities for local citizens, from conception to vocational craftsmanship training . Indigenous clay was fortified with cement to form bricks with bioclimatic thermal mass, retaining cooler air inside while allowing heat to escape through a brick ceiling and wide, overhanging, elevated roof, resulting in ventilation without the mechanical intervention of air conditioning .

Léo Doctors’ Housing, photo courtesy of Francis Kéré

The success of this project increased the school’s student body from 120 to 700 students, and catalyzed Teachers’ Housing (2004, Gando, Burkina Faso), an Extension (2008, Gando, Burkina Faso) and Library (2019, Gando, Burkina Faso) . The 2022 Jury Citation states, in part, “He knows, from within, that architecture is not about the object but the objective; not the product, but the process . Francis Kéré’s entire body of work shows us the power of materiality rooted in place . His buildings, for and with communities, are directly of those communities – in their making, their materials, their programs and their unique characters .”

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