Early Childhood & Education
Diebede Francis Kéré was born in 1965 in the village of Gando in Burkina Faso.
He was the first child in the village to be sent to school as his father who is also the village Chief.
He wanted his eldest son to learn how to read and translate his letters. Kéré had to leave his family when he was 7 years old to live with his Uncle in the city.
After completing his education, he enrolled in carpentry after his High School education and graduated while still in the city.
He then applied for a scholarship from the Carl Duisburg Society to do a further apprenticeship in Germany as a supervisor in Development Aid.
After completing the apprenticeship, he proceeded to study architecture at the Technical University of Berlin, graduating in 2004.
Career & Growth
During his studies, he felt it was his duty to contribute to his family and to the community which had supported him and to give the next generation the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.
In 1998, with the help of his friends, Kéré set up the association Schulbausteine für Gando e.V. (now Kere Foundation e.V), which loosely translates as “Building Blocks for Gando”, to fund the construction of a primary school for his village.
His main goal was to combine the knowledge he had gained in Europe, with traditional building materials that are available locally in his home country.
He built the first school for Gando community two years before finishing his diploma project in 2001.
He set up his own private practice in 2005 known Kéré Architecture.
Kéré has undertaken projects in varied countries including Burkina Faso, Mali, Germany and Switzerland and London.
In 2017 the Serpentine Galleries commissioned him to design the Serpentine Pavilion in London.
He has held professorships at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Swiss Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio.
In 2017, he accepted the professorship for “Architectural Design and Participation” at Technical University in Munchen, Germany.
The Technical University’s President Wolfgang A. Herrmann spoke of him during his investiture that his successful appointment is an opportunity for the global field of architectural education:
“From now on, Professor Kéré, the internationally highly renowned protagonist of sustainable architecture will work in Munich making our university the epicentre of a new philosophy of architecture.”
” This unique appointment, coinciding with the launch of the celebration commemorating the 150th anniversary of the founding to the Technical University of Munich marks the beginning of a new era in the shining history of our founding faculty.”
Kéré continues to reinvest knowledge back into Burkina Faso and other sites across four different continents.
He has developed innovative construction strategies that combine traditional building techniques and materials with modern engineering methods.
He explained in a previous interview,
“People need to be part of the process. We train local people to use local materials differently to create the buildings.”
“It’s very simple, but effective, It is important to inspire people to use architecture to shape their own future. This is the only way to create something that we can call sustainable.”
“When I told them we were going to use clay they were shocked. They didn’t see any innovation with clay, so I had to convince them.”
” Remember the Western model is our dream but we neither have the financial nor the technical means to do it. But that was a good challenge for me.”
” I had to create a modern building to make the project acceptable to my people; one that was cool inside and adapted to the local climate using local materials and traditional techniques.”
Francis Kéré’s work has recently been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Architektur museum in Munich and the Philadelphia Museum of Art both in 2016.
His work has been selected for group exhibitions such as Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2010, Sensing Spaces, at the Royal Academy, London in 2014.
“My primary focus is to provide these people with the infrastructure they need and to inspire other architects to develop similar ideas,”
The international recognition that his work has attracted is very helpful in this respect.
“Through my work, I have won a lot of awards and have been put in the limelight. Being recognized as the author or creator of something that can inspire young people to use architecture to develop their ideas and to help, and can open up many new opportunities,” He said.
Kéré’s work has earned many more prestigious accolades, including the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, BSI Swiss Architectural Award, Marcus Prize, Global Holcim Award, and Schelling Architecture award.
He won the prestigious “Aga Khan Award for Architecture” for his very first building project, a primary school in Gando, Burkina Faso in 2001.
Kéré has also been granted the honour of chartered membership of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 2009, and an honorary fellowship of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) in 2012.
In 2017, Kéré became the seventeenth architects to be granted the annual commission for the Serpentine Pavilion and is the first from Africa to enjoy such privilege.
He is unarguably one of the best and most successful Architects that is born and bred from Africa.
He has been asked to consider establishing an Advanced School of African Architecture that will focus mainly on fusing of modernity with available local material for building designs.
This will believe in helping to impact knowledge he has to acquire over the years to the new generation of young Africans.
“There are a lot of young people dealing with similar projects in different parts of the world, there really is a big movement emerging,” he said.
Mr Kéré’s advice to those embarking on a career in architecture:
“Don’t follow the mainstream. Be yourself, Just go! What are you waiting for? Try to find another way to use your skills to help your community. That is how, together, we can make our world better.”
We hope you have enjoyed exploring Professor Francis Here biography and his success story have inspired you to new discoveries.
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