The 2022 laureate of architecture’s highest honor, the Pritzker Architecture Prize is Diébédo Francis Kéré, known as Francis Kéré, Burkina Faso-born architect, educator, social activist, receiver of the 2004 Aga Khan Award for Architecture and designer of the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion. Recognized for “empowering and transforming communities through the process of architecture”, Kéré, the first black architect to ever obtain this award, works mostly in areas charged with constraints and adversity, using local materials and building contemporary facilities whose value exceeds the structure itself, serving and stabilizing the future of entire communities.
“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,” explains the official statement of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Announced today by Tom Pritzker, Chairman of The Hyatt Foundation, Francis Kéré is the 51st winner of the award founded in 1979, succeeding Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal. Praised “for the gifts he has created through his work, gifts that go beyond the realm of the architecture discipline”, the acclaimed architect is present equally in Burkina Faso and Germany, professionally and personally.
Born in Gando, Burkina Faso in 1965 and based in Berlin, Germany, Francis Kéré works towards “improving the lives and experiences of countless citizens in a region of the world that is at times forgotten” as Pritzker explains. The oldest son of the village chief and the first in his community to attend school, the architect’s first sense of architecture stemmed from his childhood classroom that lacked ventilation and light, on one hand, and from the little illuminated yet safe space where his grandmother would sit and tell stories, on another. In 1985, he traveled to Berlin on a vocational carpentry scholarship, learning to make roofs and furniture by day, while attending secondary classes at night. He was awarded a scholarship to attend Technische Universität Berlin (Berlin, Germany) in 1995, graduating in 2004 with an advanced degree in architecture.
“A poetic expression of light is consistent throughout Kéré’s works. Rays of sun filter into buildings, courtyards, and intermediary spaces overcoming harsh midday conditions to offer places of serenity or gathering”, adds the official statement of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. 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.