Diébédo Francis Kéré is the first African architect ever to be commissioned to design the bold, innovative, temporary Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Kensington Gardens.Kéré was born in Gando, Burkino Faso, Africa, where there was not even a school when he was a child. His father wanted one of his children to learn to read and write and sent him to live with his brother in a place where Kéré was able to attend a school.
A scholarship took him to Germany where he studied architecture in Berlin. His motto “Build things better one day” and his modest upbringing influences his style, development and ideas to this day.The first project he undertook, in 2001, was building an elementary school in his native, remote, desert village. He engaged the local villagers to help. Blueprints for the school were drawn in sand on the ground. The building materials were sand, clay and gravel – materials that the villagers were familiar with and that were readily available.At 51, Kéré continues to design architecture for the public space in his own firm. In fact his style is named community architecture based on the idea that the villagers or global nomads as we all are, will need a place to gather – whether this is under a tree in the hot African sun or a well-designed roof in one of London’s premier parks to hide from the rain – and form a community.
Kéré is concerned with the social, sustainable and cultural implications that architecture has on us.
He recently exhibited at the Museum of Art in Philadelphia. His show was titled “The architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for community”.
Source: photos courtesy of Enrico Cano, Simeon Duchoud, Erik Jan Ouwerkerk