A series of events in West Africa celebrating the Global Holcim Awards Gold project, Secondary school with passive ventilation system, by Diébédo Francis Kéré included an enthusiastic reception at the school site in Gando, Burkina Faso as well as a media conference in the capital Ouagadougou and a presentation in Accra, Ghana. More than 3,000 community members including around 1,000 school children, representatives of regional and local authorities, politics, and religion enjoyed a village festival to celebrate the global Holcim Awards gold prize won by the school and to congratulate Diébédo Francis Kéré.
The reception began with a greeting by a village elder and a guard of honor by school students to welcome guests to the village of Gando, about 200km from the capital Ouagadougou. The gold trophy was presented in front of the building which is currently under construction and was followed by an evening of food, traditional dances, music and singing.
The prize hand-over included speeches by local dignitaries and a student representing the Gando school; Rolf Soiron, Chairman of the Holcim Foundation and Chairman of Holcim; Edward Schwarz, General Manager of the Holcim Foundation; and prize-winning architect, Diébédo Francis Kéré.
“If the state cannot help, we must help ourselves,” explained Diébédo Francis Kéré, emphasizing priority of school construction above the purchase of consumer goods such as televisions.
“The seeds we plant today are that which will be harvested tomorrow”, stated Rolf Soiron. “The grandchildren of the community that has built the school will still remember the Gando school initiative in years to come.” He further commented that architects should not be blind to the challenges of urbanization, demography, environment, equity, economics, nor the value of beauty.
“The Holcim Foundation is proud to present the gold award to this project, and honor the commitment of the team from Kéré Architecture and the Gando community to engage in sustainability beyond construction,” commented Edward Schwarz. “We also acknowledge that Diébédo Francis Kéré has allocated all prize money received from the Holcim Awards competition to the project – and is living proof that education is the basis for a brighter future.”
Before the celebration event in Gando, project author Diébédo Francis Kéré attended a media conference and a prize-handover reception in Ouagadougou – where he challenged African architects to make use of the abundant materials and human resources at their disposal to create contemporary eco-friendly and community-based architecture without compromising quality. The media event attracted some 30 journalists in addition to invited guests including the Ambassadors of Belgium and the USA, and diplomatic representatives from Algeria, the European Union, and the United Kingdom.
The prize-handover was conducted by architect Joe Osae-Addo, Chairman of ArchiAfrika and member of the Holcim Awards jury for Africa Middle East, together with Rolf Soiron. Joe Osae-Addo explained the significant contribution of the project to sustainable construction. “The school project uses a hybrid building technique and was praised for creating a remarkable environment both from a social and constructive point of view,” he said.
The winner of the prize is Berlin-based architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, himself a son of the village headman of Gando where his latest school complex for more than 1,000 children is being constructed. The project combines traditional building materials and new technologies and utilizes a cement-stabilized reinforced cast earth process. The approach places great emphasis on actively involving the local population in the construction process.
The series of events in Africa to celebrate the gold award will conclude with a lecture on the Gando school project in Accra, Ghana hosted by ArchiAfrika. The event has attracted more than 100 guests including the Deputy Minister of Education of Ghana, and will be steamed via the Internet to the partner universities of ArchiAfrika across the continent.