Earlier today, Diebedo Francis Kere, architect, educator and social activist, was announced as the 2022 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize- making him the first black African architect to win what is believed to be architecture’s highest honor in its 40+ year history.
The official announcement by Tom Pritzker, Chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, reads in part, “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.“
The Burkina Faso-born architect is the 51st winner of the award founded in 1979, joining the likes of Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Alejandro Aravena, Shigeru Ban, Rem Koolhas and others.
Francis Kéré empowers and transforms communities through the process of architecture. Through his commitment to social justice and engagement, and intelligent use of local materials to connect and respond to the natural climate, he works in marginalized countries laden with constraints and adversity, where architecture and infrastructure are absent. Building contemporary school institutions, health facilities, professional housing, civic buildings and public spaces, oftentimes in lands where resources are fragile and fellowship is vital, the expression of his works exceeds the value of a building itself.
Other than schools and medical facilities, Kéré’s work in Africa includes, in progress, two historic parliament buildings, the National Assembly of Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) and Benin National Assembly (Porto-Novo, Republic of Benin), as well as the TStartup Lions Campus (2021, Turkana, Kenya), an information and communication technologies campus, and the Burkina Institute of Technology (Phase I, 2020, Koudougou, Burkina Faso) composed of cooling clay walls.
“I am hoping to change the paradigm, 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.”