The Burkinabe is the first African architect to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize, a true Oscar for architecture, which he received on March 15. Here is a look back at four key dates in his career.
1965: Diébédo Francis Kéré was born in Burkina Faso, “one of the least educated and poorest countries in the world, a land devoid of drinking water, electricity and infrastructure, not to mention architecture,” as the Pritzker team puts it. He grew up in the village of Gando before leaving to study architecture at the age of 20.
2001: His first achievement, the Gando Primary School, was made by and for the people of the village. From conception to completion, the people offered their input, labor, and resources, making almost every part of the school by hand, guided by the architect’s inventiveness in using local materials and modern engineering. A building awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004.
2005: The success of this school allowed Francis Kéré to establish his own practice in Germany the following year. He will build several primary, secondary, post-secondary, and medical facilities throughout Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mozambique, and Uganda. The buildings constructed will not only help provide academic education to children and medical treatment to the sick, but also professional opportunities and sustainable job skills to adults, thus serving the interest and stabilizing the future of entire communities.
2017: Barded with awards, Francis Kéré also sees his career haloed by his collaboration with the Serpentine Galleries in London by designing its pavilion, succeeding BIG, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, and Frank Gehry.