The 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize to Francis Kéré
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The 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize to Francis Kéré

BORN IN BURKINA FASO, HE IS WELL-KNOWN FOR HIS PROJECTS DEDICATED TO THE COMMUNITY

Diébédo Francis Kéré

The 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize to Francis Kéré
By Editorial Staff -

Bringing utopia and pragmatism together, his architecture stimulates imagination from an afro-futuristic point of view. Thanks to this vision and philosophy that characterize the architect’s style, Diébédo Francis Kéré, also educator and social activist, won the 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize. The jury’s decision was announced by Tom Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the highest international honor in the field of architecture. This year’s jury was chaired by Alejandro Aravena, winner of the same prize in 2016.

“I am hoping to change the paradigm”, said Kéré during the announcement. “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. 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”.

Startup Lions Campus, courtesy of Francis Kéré

His work reflects exactly the aim of the prize: architecture as a service to humankind and equality throughout the world. As Tom Pritzker underlined:

“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. 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”.

With a holistic approach that respects the territory and social features, his aim is to create solutions that take into consideration the present and the circumstances while producing something completely brand new.

About Francis KéréBenga Riverside School, courtesy of Francis Kéré

Kéré developed his first sense and value of architecture during his childhood: he was born in Gando, Burkina Faso, an area where “there was no kindergarten, but where community was your family” and everyone took care of each other. “I remember the room where my grandmother would sit and tell stories with a little light, while we would huddle close to each other and her voice inside the room enclosed us, summoning us to come closer and form a safe place”, he explained. “This was my first sense of architecture”.

With his commitment to social justice and local materials in order to respect the natural environment, he never backed down from working in countries that are characterized by strict restrictions and a serious lack of resources and infrastructures. 

Although in his life he has traveled and lived in several countries far from his homeland, among them Berlin, his approach has never left those values deeply rooted in Burkina Faso. As he recognized his privilege, he established the Schulbausteine für Gando (school building blocks for Gando), later renamed Kéré Foundation, to fundraise and advocate for children’s right to study and to adequate school facilities. His first building, Gando Primary School, was built by and for the people of Gando. 

His works

Xylem, courtesy of Iwan Baan

As previously said, Kéré dedicated great attention to school buildings as well as health and medical facilities. One of his latest projects, the Burkina Institute of Technology, was too designed for Burkina Faso, more precisely for the city of Koudougou and completed in 2021. An institute of higher education, it is located in a larger site designated for high quality technology and science training.

Read here an in-depth analysis about this project on The Plan 132

This is a striking example of his ongoing commitment to his many works throughout the African territory and of how his professional career resulted in the winning of many other prizes, like the 2021 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture. At the heart of his architecture lies a continuous development through local resources and the subtle combination of functionality, excellence, daily life and beauty.

Jury quotes 

Diébédo Francis Kéré, courtesy of Lars Borges

The jury, composed by Alejandro Aravena (Chairman), Barry Bergdoll, Deborah Berke, Stephen Breyer, André Aranha Corrêa do Lago, Kazuyo Sejima, Wang Shu, Benedetta Tagliabue and Manuela Lucá-Dazio as Executive Director, as pointed out how Francis Kéré’s entire body of work can show “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. They are tied to the ground on which they sit and to the people who sit within them. They have presence without pretense and an impact shaped by grace”. […] “In response he developed an ad-hoc, highly performative and expressive architectural vocabulary: double roofs, thermal mass, wind towers, indirect lighting, cross ventilation and shade chambers (instead of conventional windows, doors and columns) have not only become his core strategies, but have actually acquired the status of built dignity”.

Martha Thorne, Dean of IE School of Architecture and Design and former Executive Director of the Pritzker Prize, added:

“The 2022 laureate reflects a very positive evolution in architecture prizes and in particular, the Pritzker Prize, that began some years ago.  Architecture cannot longer be seen as merely objects in the landscape.  Architecture and architects can and should be transformative.  Francis Keré clearly shows that one can serve all communities, even and especially the most needy, through good design.  He highlights his responsible approach towards environments at all scales, respecting the global natural environment, the local context, and the people who will use his buildings. He is a fresh and necessary voice pointing the way towards the true role of architecture for all”.

Francis Kéré has therefore won the 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize after two consecutive editions in which two couples of architects – Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal in 2021 and Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara in 2020 – were given the honor.

 

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