Diébédo Francis Kéré (Burkina Faso/Germany)
Diébédo Francis Kéré was born in Burkina Faso in 1965, the first born son of the chief of the village of Gando. After completing his apprenticeship as a carpenter, Kéré began to work in the capital city of Ouagadougou as a teacher in the professional training courses organised with the sponsorship of the German Federal Administration for Economic Cooperation and Development. Kéré was awarded a scholarship in 1990 and moved to Berlin. He completed his secondary education there and enrolled in the School of Architecture at the Technical University of Berlin, where he earned his degree in 2004.
Kéré began his career in architecture while still at university. In 1998, he founded the organisation Bricks for the Gando Schools, through which he raised the funds to build a new primary school in his home village. The building was conceived to ensure efficient natural ventilation in the rooms, achieved by the combination of structural walls in earth blocks (with elements of reinforced concrete), large windows and a peaked ceiling with openings on the roof. The building is covered by a larger, corrugated metal roof that shades the walls and shelters the building during the rainy season. The construction techniques were adapted to the local resources and took advantage of the technical skills of local workers, while involving the entire village in the construction. The quality of the new spaces has made it possible for an increasing number of students to attend the school, which soon led to the need to build new classrooms as well as living quarters for teachers.
The Primary School of Gando immediately attracted international attention and recognition for its high quality. Kéré was honoured in 2004 with the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, followed in 2007 by the Zumtobel Award for Sustainable Architecture and in 2009 by the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture.
Diébédo Francis Kéré has been a lecturer at the Technical University of Berlin since October 2004, and opened his own architecture practice in Berlin in September 2005. His professional activity, while centred in Burkina Faso, is not limited to his homeland. He has designed concepts in Mali (a community centre in Mopti and the National Park of Mali), Yemen (school building prototypes), India (a girls' boarding school in Dattigaon, 2009), and the Canary Islands (meeting point in Fuerteventura, a concept developed for the first Architecture, Art and Landscape Biennial).
Kéré’s work has been exhibited at the Expo of Zaragoza in the section “ZaragozaKyoto – Architectures for a Sustainable Planet”, at the DAM Deutsches Architecturmuseum in Frankfurt and, more recently, at the MoMA in New York.