A different kind of architect
“I believe architects can change the world by building good, sustainable, human architecture”, says Burkina Faso-born architect Francis Kéré. He builds both in the West and in Africa. We interviewed him in the gardens of wine estate Babylonstoren near Cape Town, at the closing event of Design Indaba, the yearly design festival where he was one of the lecturers.
He got a standing ovation, and for good reasons: Francis Kéré is not just another starchitect. Among others, Kéré has constructed schools in Burkina Faso, a country where an estimated 80% of the population is illiterate. “In Burkina, you have to make a huge effort to get educated. Pupils don’t have the luxury of small classes like in the West – they follow the courses with 60 at a time in 45°C classrooms. I constructed a ventilation system specially adapted to these monstrous temperatures.”
He constructed this together with the people – he trained the artisans to work with local materials so that they would be educated for the future. “By working together as a community, the villagers see their school as a shared project.
The Gando school attracted international recognition, and that’s how Kéré started his career as an architect. “I feel it as my duty as an African living in the West to invest in Africa. And I’m happy to announce I’m not the only one! I notice a trend of successful Africans living in the worldwide diaspora who don’t just send money home, but actually do something in their cities and countries of birth. They invest in the future of their continent. An important evolution!”
We published the full interview in DAMn° Magazine: Brick by Brick. Francis Kéré paves the way for change
(text and picture by Veerle Devos)