Francis Kéré on sustainable housing

One of Kéré’s schools in Gando

Buildings in Africa should be adapted to suit the needs of the community as well as withstand the ravages of the local climate, Burkinabé architect Diébédo Francis Kéré says.

At the latest Design Indaba (a Zulu term for ‘meeting’ or ‘gathering’), the 46-year-old Berlin-based architect outlined the plans for constructing schools in his home village as well as future hopes for African architecture.

Francis Kéré at Design Indaba 2011

International Architectural Forum Aedes praised Kéré’s progress, which uses local materials and labour and is sustainable as well as environmentally friendly. In addition, Kéré also trains his workers so that future projects can be supervised by the local people.

It’s a perfect example of African ‘brain drain’ working for the benefit of its people, giving them practical tools with which to develop their community. With schools now constructed in Gando where there were few before, Kéré has given his people not only the key to long-term economic success – education – he has also provided them practical tools with which to maintain that pace of expansion.

His hope is that this project expands to other areas of rural Africa, and that these projects source local materials.

Lessons have already begun in the schools, which provide education to children of all ages

The outside of one of Gando’s schools

Aedes described the thinking behind Kéré’s project:

The basic principle behind the design was to take the traditional loam construction building and to  turn  it  into  a  permanent  building  with  high  climatic suitability  by  employing  new  materials  and  construction principles. Loam is an abundant and very cheap material.  The  classrooms were  planned  as  modular  elements  so  that  they  could be  built  in  successive  stages.  This  principle  enables the  construction  of  schools  in  any  number  of  different  sizes  throughout  the  whole  region. A key feature of this  project  is  that  its  implementation  relied  solely on the  labor  of  the  village  community.

Kéré won the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2009, and won honourable mention in the latest Zumtobel Group Award for Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment. His village of Gando has received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004.

He graduated from the Technical University of Berlin with a degree in Architecture in 2004, after studying in Germany on a scholarship from 1990.

In September 1998, he began the project Schulbausteine für Gando (Building Blocks for Gando), for the 3000 people in his village in the Sahel of West Africa.

Local workers construct the schools, which are made using locally-sourced and sustainable materials
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