It is impossible to talk about Kere Architecture without discussing the internationally acclaimed founder, Francis Kéré. Although Kere Architecture is in Berlin, it has worked on several projects in various continents, including Africa. Francis Kéré is a native of Burkina Faso( village ; Gando ) and has never forgotten his roots. He uses architecture to tell his African story, and at the same time, comes up with creative, practical designs suitable for different societies.
His very first building design won him the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004. The design was for a school in his home village, which he designed, funded, and constructed. This was done in memory of the hardships he encountered, walking 40km to attend school in a different area because his village did not have one.
The construction of Gando Primary School was completed in 2001. The design considered resource availability, construction feasibility, climate, and cost. Kéré didn’t just want a place for the children to learn, but he wanted a building that could easily be maintained with the available local resources. This is why he used clay and cement. His thoughtful, practical gesture and creative designs made him famous in the architecture world. Today, he is a highly sought-after professional who is known to assemble a fantastic team for different projects.
Kere Architecture team
This architectural firm is one of the most distinguished thanks to its more than 15 agile architects, project managers, and support staff. Kéré has also trained hundreds of interns wo get up to 12 months’ worth of knowledge on contemporary architecture from the experienced personnel.
When working on projects, especially those that will impact the community, this team of experts spends time with the locals to understand the people’s culture and what they expect from the building.
The knowledge guides the designs, and since the people were involved from the onset, they understand the importance of using sustainable materials. They also protect the buildings because it is a source of pride. This is probably one of the unique features of Kere Architecture and the projects undertaken in Africa and beyond.
National Park of Mali – This project was completed in 2010. New amenities were added to the park for the 50th-anniversary celebrations of Mali’s independence. The team of Kere architects added an up-scale restaurant, several entrance buildings, and a sports center. Local natural stone was used in the exterior of the buildings to ensure it blends with the surrounding, and at the same time help in keeping the interior of the buildings cool.
Burkina Faso National Assembly – The 2014 uprising against a dictatorial regime, the Burkina Faso National Assembly, was destroyed. Kéré was asked to propose a design, which was symbolic of the changes expected in Burkina Faso. The Kere Architects saw this as an opportunity to come up with a plan that signified transparency, opportunity, equality, and openness. The project is ongoing.
Naaba Belem Gouma Secondary School – This is an ongoing construction not only designed by the team of Kere architects but also funded by the company. The literacy level in Burkina Faso is estimated to be 29%. Francis Kéré has taken it upon himself to improve education in his native country. This design combines modern and traditional technologies in the creation of classrooms, resource centers, offices, assembly hall, sheltered parking, and sports field. This design won the Global Holcim Award Gold 2012 and the Regional Holcim Award Gold for Africa and Middle East 2011.
Dano Secondary School – This school’s design factored in the hot climate in Burkina Faso and the locally available building materials. In this case, Laterite stone was chosen since it is readily available, and it also helps to keep the interior cool, even on a hot day. Natural ventilation is facilitated with slits in the suspended ceiling.
Kere architects worked with young people in Burkina Faso as a means of creating employment, but also to provide them with training in construction. This project was completed in 2007 and won this company the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture 2009, BSI Swiss Architectural Award 2010, and the 6th edition of the International Sustainable Architecture Prize 2008.
Centre de l’Architecture en Terre – This 1200m2 centre was completed in 2010. It was one of a series of buildings under the Aga Khan Trust of Culture undertaken in Mopti, Mali. The materials are used to create a buffer between the heat in the exterior and coolness in the interior. The overhanging roof also provides shade, so the centre remains cool always, and energy-consuming air conditioning remains unnecessary.
Opera Village – This project is still under construction in Burkina Faso. The cultural heritage in Burkina Faso is quite strong, and this centre of African film and theatre reveals it. Unfortunately, the area was ravaged with floods, and adjustments had to be made to add residential, recreational, and educational amenities. Readily available building materials are being used to cut costs and ensuring the building fits in with the others in the area.
Mario Garcia / [email protected]