Jewel in the crown of African architecture

His works exemplify a harmonious blend of form, function and sustainability

In Summary

• Celebrated Burkinabé architect Francis Kéré has won the 2023 Praemium Imperiale

• It compounds his meteoric rise as one of the world's most fêted architects

Francis Kéré
Francis Kéré

Burkinabé maestro Francis Kéré has bagged the prestigious Praemium Imperiale honour to become 2023's most fetéd African architect.

The award, made by the imperial family of Japan on behalf of the Asian nation's art association, comes a year after Keré became the first African and Black recipient of the esteemed Pritzker Architecture Prize, an accolade often referred to as the "Nobel Prize of Architecture".

Visionaries such as British-Iraqi Zaha Hadid, China-born IM Pei and Renzo Piano of Italy are some of the Pritzker laureates.

Kéré’s work embodies a deep appreciation of local environmental and social conditions and represents the adaptation and application of 21st-century engineering and technological advances to those conditions.

“At the intersection of utopia and pragmatism, we create contemporary architecture that feeds the imagination with an afro-futurist vision,” is how Kéré’s practice, Kéréarchitects, describes itself.

Whether that’s in his termite-mound-inspired design for a college in Kenya or his wood-and-concrete design for a school in Burkina Faso, or in Kunle Adeyemi’s floating structures, African architects are making waves by bringing an appreciation of local materials, construction techniques and design, to their buildings.

This is not only inspiring other young African architects but also giving Africa its own design “moment”.

From the sandy terrains of Burkina Faso to the pinnacle of global architectural acclaim, Francis Kéré’s journey is nothing short of extraordinary.

Francis Kéré’s name has become synonymous with innovative, sustainable and culturally relevant architecture.

Hailing from the West African nation of Burkina Faso, Kéré’s groundbreaking work has often drawn inspiration from his roots, bridging the gap between traditional building techniques and modern architectural principles.

Kéré’s recent accolades have solidified his position not just as a champion of African design but as a global architectural powerhouse.

His latest achievement adds another jewel to his crown, reaffirming his standing as one of the foremost architects anywhere in the world.

Kéré’s architecture also resonates with local populations, adding a deep sense of community and environmental consciousness.

From the wind-catching features of his school in Gando to the cleverly designed Opera Village, his works exemplify a harmonious blend of form, function and sustainability.

It’s this unique approach that has won him admirers globally, making him an icon for budding architects and a source of pride for Africa.

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