The Pritzker Architecture Prize honors architects who demonstrate exceptional talent and use that talent to better the built environment and contribute to the overall improvement of humanity. Founded by Jay A. Pritzker and Cindy Pritzker, the award is funded by the Pritzker family and is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Architecture”. The Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded annually and previous winners of the Pritzker awards are world-wide and have included both men and women. However, this year is special as Diébédo Francis Kéré is the first African and the first Black architect to win.
Kéré has been recognized for his work which “empowers and transforms communities”. Kéré draws on West Africa traditions, his work a direct reflection of his experience growing up in a poor village in Burkina Faso, one of the least educated and most impoverished nations. Kéré was the first in his community to attend school and he found that the classrooms could be unbearable due to the climate, often lacking proper ventilation and lighting. His passion for architecture and creating positive environments for children to learn in was born as he continues to be a social activist.
“At the intersection of utopia and pragmatism we create contemporary architecture that feeds the imagination with an afro-futurist vision.”– Diébédo Francis Kéré
Gado’s work includes primary schools, national parks, clinics and health centers, pavilions, campuses, public meeting spaces, student housing, theatres, and more. With an approach focusing on local communities, participation from the users, sustainability, and afro-futurist vision, Kere architecture engages the communities in which they work with a deep understanding of their needs. Their design focuses in thermal comfort, the use of naturally occurring organic material like clay, canopies, and rich textures.
AE3 Job Captain, Angelica Romero, shares her excitement for this award’s recipient, “His firm vision statement is so inspiring and powerful to me, It shows Kéré’s openness to allow himself to still dream and create meaningful spaces in a physical world full of limitations & always with his homeland as an important source of inspiration.” Kéré has brought a voice to those who did not have one and is using his power to make immensely positive changes to these communities. This is an incredible step forward by the Pritzker Award in showcasing strong, diverse architects.