BY MONIQUE BEALS
West African architect Francis Kéré was announced on Tuesday as the 2022 laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture’s highest honor.
“Through his commitment to social justice and engagement, and intelligent use of local materials to connect and respond to the natural climate, he works in marginalized countries laden with constraints and adversity, where architecture and infrastructure are absent,” a statement announcing the award said of the Berlin-based Kéré.
“I am hoping to change the paradigm, push people to dream and undergo risk,” Kéré added in the statement.
Kéré was born in Burkina Faso and has designed projects including schools, libraries, health care facilities, mostly in African countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo, Kenya, Mozambique and Sudan.
The 56-year-old told The New York Times he cried about the recognition and was even surprised that he attracted the attention of the jury that selected him.
“It is not because you are rich that you should waste material. It is not because you are poor that you should not try to create quality,” he said in the Pritzker statement.
“Everyone deserves quality, everyone deserves luxury, and everyone deserves comfort. We are interlinked and concerns in climate, democracy and scarcity are concerns for us all.”
Many of his projects have benefited underserved communities.
For example, at Gando Primary School in 2001, he used his designs to bring light into the school and combat extreme heat in the building, which lacked air conditioning, allowing the school to increase its enrollment from 120 to 700 students, The Times reported.
Between 2004 and 2019, Kéré also later designed teachers’ housing, an extension and a library for the school.
Some of his other projects include designs ranging from his Benga Riverside School in Mozambique to towers for California’s Coachella music festival.