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Questions of Practice: Francis Kéré on Creating Architecture that “Serves Humanity”

Supporting community and inviting dialogue are central to the work of Berlin-based architect Francis Kéré, who hails from Burkina Faso. Here, we asked him to describe how his personal background has influenced his architectural practice. “I feel that I’m a bridge from the beginning,” Kéré said. “I don’t feel myself connected to a fictive elite because our job [as architects] is to serve humanity and to create structures to serve people.”

Supported by a Center Advancement grant, The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community was on view May 14 – September 25, 2016 as part of the Creative Africa exhibition series at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Watch Kéré on architecture and community collaboration.>

Born in Burkina Faso and based in Berlin, architect Francis Kéré integrates traditional knowledge and craft skills into innovative and sustainable buildings worldwide. In 1998, he established the Kéré Foundation and constructed The Primary School in his home village—a project that received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004. With his firm Kéré Architecture, he has produced international projects including the Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Switzerland, the Center for Earth Architecture in Mali, and the National Park of Mali, and he participated in the Venice Architecture Biennale (2010). Kéré is an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects, and has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio.