LafargeHolcim Foundation Who is Who in sustainable construction


Diébédo Francis Kéré


Francis Kéré is Principal of Kéré Architecture, based in Berlin, Germany.

Kéré Architecture has established an international reputation for its focus on enabling community-supported construction of sustainable and appropriate education facilities as an effective social development concept. The design of sparing structures with mud bricks and lightweight steel frames are often built by unskilled labour with an elegant economy of means. He is an expert in preserving and developing traditional clay technologies and architecture heritage.

The firm’s built works encompass numerous education buildings in Burkina Faso, Togo and Mali, as well as design proposals in Yemen and India. Other architectural projects include civic, cultural, and commercial projects, as well as the current exhibition design for the Red Cross Museum in Geneva, Switzerland.

Francis Kéré studied architecture including modules in civil engineering at the Technische Universität Berlin (TU-Berlin). He was guest professor at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Design (2012), was appointed Design Critic in Urban Planning & Design at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (2013) and Guest Professor at the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture, Switzerland (2013).

He received the BSI Swiss Architectural Award in 2010 and the Marcus Prize in 2011. His first school in Gando, Burkina Faso, was completed in 2001 and received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The follow-up project also in Gando, the Secondary school with passive ventilation system, received the Holcim Awards Gold 2011 for Africa Middle East as well as the Global Holcim Awards Gold 2012.

Francis Kéré will become the first African architect of the Serpentine pavilion. Every year since 2000, the Serpentine Gallery has commissioned a temporary summer pavilion by a leading architect. The series presents the work of an international architect or design team who has not completed a building in England at the time of the Gallery’s invitation. Inspired by the tree that serves as a central meeting point for life in his hometown of Gando, Francis Kéré has designed a responsive Pavilion that seeks to connect its visitors to nature – and each other. An expansive roof, supported by a central steel framework, mimics a tree’s canopy, allowing air to circulate freely while offering shelter against London rain and summer heat.

He received the Arnold W Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts & Letters (2017). The prize is given to a preeminent architect from any country who has made a significant contribution to architecture as art, and praised him as “an alchemist working with local materials and technology to design buildings of meaning and beauty”.

He took part in the Royal Academy’s Sensing Spaces exhibition in 2014 (where he made a participatory tunnel of colourful straws), the Chicago Biennial in 2015, and the Venice Biennale in 2016 (where he presented what could become the project of his lifetime, a new national parliament building for Burkina Faso).

He was an expert in the workshop Local resources - Leveraging regional skills and metabolism at the 4th LafargeHolcim Forum “Economy of Sustainable Construction” held in Mumbai (2013).

He was a member of the LafargeHolcim Awards jury for Africa Middle East in 2014.

Last Updated: April 05, 2017
Berlin, Germany
Kéré: "A project about architecture, people, and dealing with two different cultures"
Kéré: "A project about architecture, people, and dealing with two different cultures"
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