Diébédo Francis Kéré developed a sensitive bottom-up approach to architecture that embraces community participation. His simultaneously local and global perspective moves beyond aesthetics, towards a performative architecture that is centered around process.
1. Startup Lions Campus, Turkana County, Kenya, 2021
Inspired by termite mounds in the region, Kéré Architecture fitted the Startup Lions Campus with striking cooling chimneys. The ventilation towers create a stack effect to naturally cool the building by extracting wam air upwards. Fresh air is introduced through specially designed low openings. This low-tech system deals cleverly with the hot Kenyan climate and prevents dust from damaging the computers.
2. Burkina Institute of Technology, Phase I, Koudougou, Burkina Faso, 2020
Burkina Institute of Technology is composed of cooling clay walls that were cast in-situ to accelerate the building process. Overhanging eucalyptus, regarded as inefficient due to its minimal shading abilities yet depletion of nutrients from the soil, were repurposed to line the angled corrugated metal roofs, which protect the building during the country’s brief rainy reason, and rainwater is collected underground to irrigate mango plantations on the premises.
3. Xylem, Montana, United States, 2019
Xylem, the gathering pavilion for the Tippet Rise Art Center, has been designed by Francis Kéré as a quiet, protective shelter for the visitors of the ranch. Named to evoke the vital internal layers of a tree’s living structure, Xylem is a place where visitors may gather to converse, contemplate the views of the aspen and cottonwood trees near the bank of Grove Creek, or sit and meditate in solitude.
4. Gando Primary School Library, Gando, Burkina Faso, 2019
The library’s ceiling is an innovative feature that makes good use of local technology. Clay pots, traditionally made by the women of the village, were brought to the site and cut, so as to be open at both the top and bottom. The pots were then cast into the concrete ceiling to create holes for light and ventilation. A rectangular corrugated iron roof sits above this ceiling and extends out beyond the library to create a separate shaded area for study or relaxation. As the metal roof heats up it draws the air from inside the library up and out through the holes in the roof, ensuring a comfortable rate of air circulation. The rectangular area around the library is enclosed by a facade of thin eucalyptus columns.
5. Serpentine Pavilion, London, United Kingdom, 2017
Taking inspiration from the great tree in his hometown of Gando under which members of the community meet to reflect on the day, Kéré’s design is based on creating this sense of community while connecting people with nature.
6. Lycée Schorge Secondary School, Koudougou, Burkina Faso, 2016
The school consists of nine modules arranged radially around a courtyard, protecting the central space from wind and dust. A series of steps creates a loosely defined amphitheater, which accommodates informal gatherings as well as assemblies and celebrations for the school and wider community.
7. Surgical Clinic and Health Centre, Léo, Burkina Faso, 2014
The design aims to create an inclusive atmosphere and an alternative to the intimidating rigidity that often characterize the architecture of health institutions. The facility is made up of 10 modular units that are arranged loosely in relation to each other to create a variety of sheltered, interstitial spaces that feel both dynamic and welcoming. This modular system also reduces costs and speeds up the construction process.
8. Opera Village, Phase I, Laongo, Burkina Faso, 2010
Simple basic modules, which depending on the equipment differ in quality and function, constitute the entire village. The most simple modules should be built in self-construction. Local materials such as clay, laterit, cement bricks, gum wood and loam rendering will be used for construction. For reinforcing elements such as beams, columns, ring-beams and foundations, concrete will be used. Due to the massive walls and big overhang of the roofs, air conditioning could be disclaimed in most buildings.
9. Gando Primary School Extension, Gando, Burkina Faso, 2008
Two years after the completion of the Gando Primary School, an overwhelming increase in school enrolment prompted the planning of an extension. The Gando Primary School Extension features four additional classrooms and a sunken seating area in the middle where students can enjoy shade between classes. Together, the two buildings form an “L” shape, defining what has now become an important gathering space in Gando.
10. Gando Primary School, Gando, Burkina Faso, 2001
For this project, traditional building techniques and modern engineering methods were combined to produce the best quality building solution while simplifying construction and future maintenance. The success of the project can be attributed to the close involvement of the local population in the building process. With the support of his community, and funds raised through Kéré Foundation, Kéré was able to realize his very first building.