The 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize awarded to Diébédo Francis Kéré : NPR

Diébédo Francis Kéré appears on a Zoom screen in a loose white Oxford shirt and a huge, slightly flabbergasted smile.

“Can you imagine?” exclaims the new winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. “I was born in Burkina Faso, in this small village where there was no school. And my father wanted me to learn to read and write very simply because then I could then translate or read to him his letters.”

Diébédo Francis Kéré, winner of this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Lars Borges/Pritzker Architecture Prize


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Lars Borges/Pritzker Architecture Prize


Diébédo Francis Kéré, winner of this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Lars Borges/Pritzker Architecture Prize

Kéré spoke to NPR from Porto-Novo, the capital of Benin, where Kéré Architecture currently working on a new parliamentary building inspired by the palaver tree. It is, he says, a West African symbol of building consensus, and he hopes the building will reflect a commitment to both tradition and the democratic process. “Literally speaking, it’s a tree under which people come together to make decisions, to celebrate,” Kéré explains. “You know, you think together and everyone can be part of the debate or the discussion.”

The first black winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize had already received numerous accolades in his field, including the Aga Khan Prize and the Thomas Jefferson Medal, but Kéré was as surprised as anyone to be shortlisted for the world’s most famous prize. domain. Many architects and critics had openly assumed that 2022 would be the year of Sir David Adjaye. The most prominent black “stararchitect” is best known for designing notable buildings such as the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Kéré , which is based in Berlin but focuses much of its practice in Africa, has been – until now – much less well-known, with iconic buildings that include primary schools and a healthcare clinic.

Benga Riverside School in Mozambique

Jaime Herraiz Martinez/Pritzker Architecture Prize


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Jaime Herraiz Martinez/Pritzker Architecture Prize

“Francis Kéré is a pioneer of architecture – sustainable for the earth and its inhabitants – in lands of extreme scarcity,” committee chairman Tom Pritzker said in a statement. “He is both architect and servant, enhancing the lives and experiences of countless citizens in a sometimes forgotten region of the world. Through buildings that demonstrate beauty, modesty, audacity and invention, and through the integrity of its architecture and its gesture. , Kéré gracefully supports the mission of this Prize.”

Burkinabè Institute of Technology

Jaime Herraiz/Pritzker Architecture Prize


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Jaime Herraiz/Pritzker Architecture Prize


Burkinabè Institute of Technology

Jaime Herraiz/Pritzker Architecture Prize

Kéré says his architectural practice was inspired by his own experience of going to school with about 100 other children in an area where temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. “You go and sit down and it’s really hot inside,” he told NPR. “And there was no light, while outside the sunlight was abundant and in my head, I think, the idea one day germinated [that] as an adult, I should improve it. I was thinking about the space, the room, how I could feel better.”

The Health and Social Action Center of Laongo, Burkina Faso

The Pritzker Architecture Prize


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The Pritzker Architecture Prize

In his designs for Gando Primary School and Naaba Belem Goumma Secondary School in Burkina Faso, Kéré drew inspiration from traditional building materials such as local clay mixed with concrete, and emphasized shade and shadows with well-ventilated spaces that reduce the need for air conditioning. He wanted the buildings to evoke a sense of an oasis. “I’m creating a huge canopy for many, many children to be happy and learn to read and write,” he says.

Schorge High School in Palogo, Burkina Faso

The Pritzker Architecture Prize


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The Pritzker Architecture Prize

At the age of twenty, in 1985, Kéré obtained a professional scholarship to study carpentry in Berlin. But while immersed in the practice of roofing and furniture making, he also took evening classes and was admitted to the Technische Universität Berlin, from which he graduated in 2004 with an advanced degree in architecture. He was still a student when he designed and built the innovative Gando Primary School. The recognition he gained helped Kéré establish his own practice in Berlin.

The Serpentine Pavilion 2017, built in Kensington Gardens in London

Iwan Baan/Pritzker Architecture Prize


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Iwan Baan/Pritzker Architecture Prize

“He knows, from within, that architecture is not about the object but the purpose; not the product, but the process,” states the 2022 jury citation in part. by Francis Kéré shows us the power of materiality rooted in place. His buildings, for and with communities, are directly from those communities – in their unique craftsmanship, materials, programs and character.”

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