Burkinabè Architect Diébédo Francis Kéré Awarded 2023 Praemium Imperiale For Architecture

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Internationally acclaimed Burkinabè architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been honored with the prestigious Architecture category award at the 2023 Praemium Imperiale Awards. Kéré’s innovative approach to architecture and commitment to sustainable construction practices have garnered him this esteemed recognition, further solidifying his status as a pioneering figure in the architectural world.

Born in Burkina Faso, Diébédo Francis Kéré’s journey to architectural prominence is rooted in a personal mission to serve his community and a profound belief in the transformative power of beauty. His early education in dimly lit, sweltering classrooms inspired his determination to create better spaces, ultimately shaping his career as an architect.

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Kéré’s architectural philosophy revolves around integrating local materials and traditional skills with forward-thinking design and intelligent engineering solutions. He places significant emphasis on collaboration with local communities, making architecture a tool for empowerment. Through his visionary work, Kéré has not only reshaped the architectural landscape of Burkina Faso but has also left an indelible mark across Africa and beyond.

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One of his earliest projects was Gando Primary School. Photo is by Siméon Duchoud

One of Kéré’s notable achievements is the Gando Primary School, constructed in 2001 in Burkina Faso. This project exemplifies his commitment to utilizing local resources and engaging the skills of the community to create functional and beautiful spaces. His designs seamlessly blend traditional African architectural elements with modern innovations, evident in projects like Coachella’s Sarbalé Ke (2019) and Xylem (2019) at Tippet’s Rise in the USA. Kéré’s work also often draws inspirati

Established in 1989, the Praemium Imperiale Awards celebrate achievements in various fields, including Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music, and Theatre/Film. Each laureate receives an honorarium of 15 million Yen (approximately £90,000). These awards are presented by the Japan Art Association under the honorary patronage of HIH Prince Hitachi, the younger brother of the Emperor Emeritus of Japan.

Apart from Kéré’s accolade in Architecture, other 2023 laureates include:

  • Vija Celmins for Painting
  • Olafur Eliasson for Sculpture
  • Wynton Marsalis in Music
  • Robert Wilson for Theatre/Film

Notable previous British recipients of this prestigious award include Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Anthony Caro.

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Diébédo Francis Kéré’s recognition as the 2023 Praemium Imperiale Architecture laureate is a testament to his unwavering commitment to sustainable, community-driven design. His innovative approach, along with the contributions of the other winners, continues to inspire artists and designers worldwide, offering a blueprint for a more inclusive and vibrant global arts community.

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