Diébédo Francis Kéré is an architect from Burkina Faso who studied in Germany and now splits his time between these two countries. In 1998 he founded the Schulbausteine für Gando (Stones for building schools in Gando), a non-profit organisation whose first project collected funds for the construction of a primary school in Gando, Kéré's home village. Whilst still studying at the Technical University in Berlin, Kéré launched the association asking his colleagues to donate money towards the school. Since then he has gained support from a pharmaceutical company, Hevert Arzneimittel, which has promised funding for the following ten years.
Kéré adapts technology from the industrialised world to produce low-cost buildings that are suitable to their context. Construction techniques are adapted for building without heavy machinery and an integral part of the process is the training of local people. Traditional construction methods are improved: for example in Gando the school and consequent buildings are made from compacted earth bricks using refined clay, increasing the material's performance and overcoming the perception of earth as a buiding material for the poor. These are combined with other traditional methods such as a stamped earth floor and cheap materials such as a tin roof.
A sense of social responsibility drove Kéré to pursue projects first in his home village, then further afield in Burkina Faso, and now the practice has projects in Yemen, India and Mali. Through linking architecture with development Kéré's projects take a holistic approach and his association has expanded its remit beyond building schools to organising women's co-operatives, supporting education for girls and providing much needed employment for youth through training and projects, proving the socially transformative potential of architecture.
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'Francis Kere - Global Award for Sustainable Architecture', YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgrIhbuneSI [accessed 5 May 2010].
Alan Ford, 'Primary School', in Designing the Sustainable School (Mulgrave: Images Publishing, 2007), pp. 178-181.
Catherine Slessor, 'Primary school, Gando, Burkina Faso: Diébédo Francis Kéré', Architectural Review, 226 (1352)(2009): 66-69.
'Inspirational Creators: Diébédo Francis Kéré, Architect',
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'Kere Architecture: Primary school and extension, Gando, Burkina Faso, 2001, 2008', Lotus international, 2009, 22-27.
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