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Engaging Spaces And Developing Contemporary African Architecture

Diébédo Francis Kéré is a pioneering German-based architect, whose work seeks to bring together the best of African and European architectural methods. Born and raised in Burkina Faso, upon completing school the architect was awarded a scholarship to Germany where he initially studied as a supervisor in the context of development aid. After a period of apprenticeship Diébédo Francis then went on to study architecture at the Technische Universität Berlin, before founding his practice, Kéré Architecture. Having also founded a not-for-profit organisation, Schulbausteine für Gando, loosely translated as ‘Bricks for Gando’, upon graduation Diébédo Francis returned home to Gando, the village he was born in, to share what he had learnt with his local community. Through Schulbausteine für Gando, Diébédo Francis has been able to raise the funds needed to help invest in developing Gando.

A pioneer in the development of contemporary African architecture Diébédo Francis’s award winning designs include the creation of a local primary school in his hometown of Gando, 2001, which has continued to develop as a school extension; library, teacher’s housing, and secondary school have been added. Some of Kéré Architecture’s most notable projects include: the renovation of several buildings for the National Park of Mali, in the capital city of Bamako; a Women’s Association Centre in Gando, Burkina Faso; a permanent exhibition at The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum (MICR) in Geneva, Switzerland; and the Opera Village in Laongo, Burkina Faso, which is currently under construction and when completed will be a centre for arts, music and theatre.
[Image credits: School Extension, Gando Burkina Faso – Kéré Architecture
Diébédo Francis is known for promoting and exploring sustainable design, and is a proponent in developing contemporary African architecture. He makes use of local materials and building techniques, and investing in the knowledge that comes with working with local labour. Diébédo Francis’s expertise in this area has seen his Practice design buildings all over the world. Diébédo Francis is also sought after to lecture. October 2012 saw the architect take up a professorship at Harvard.

Kéré Architecture is currently taking part in Sensing Spaces – Architecture Reimagined, an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, which sees seven architectural practices from six countries and four continents brought together to give visitors their take on a new perspective of architecture. Hosted in the Main Galleries at the Royal Academy, a series of large installations have been designed to challenge the way we interact with architecture. Kéré Architecture’s contribution is a tunnel-like structure that connects two rooms. The structure is made up of 34 overlapping arches, each featuring 32 panels which are connected to form a honeycomb-like structure, the overall effect resembling what has been described as a ‘scaly armadillo’. Bringing the structure to life is a technicolour display of straws sticking out of the honeycomb panels. These have been inserted by visitors to the exhibition, who are invited to take the multi-coloured straws provided at the structure’s entrance. The straws can be inserted either from inside the structure or from the outside. The design allows visitors to engage with the space and have a say in how the space evolves, and as the days pass the effect of the distribution of the straws is in a constant state of flux, highlighting a greater concentration in the more accessible areas.

The exhibition opened on the 25th January and runs until the 6th April 2014.

Additional information:
Running until the 6th April 2014 the entry fee for the Sensing Spacing Exhibition is: £14
For further details about Kéré Architecture visit: www.kerearchitecture.com
For further information about visit Schulbausteine für Gando: www.fuergando.de
For further information about Sensing Spaces – Architecture Reimagined visit: www.royalacademy.org.uk

[Image credits: The images shown belong to: Kéré Architecture. If downloaded and used elsewhere must be credited accordingly]

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