Architecture Film Soirée: “Francis Kéré: An Architect Between”

The work of Diébédo Francis Kéré is at the forefront of a paradigm shift within design. The architect is globally renowned for using his craft to improve social, economic, and political environments in his native Burkina Faso and numerous other countries. Globally, people are turning to designers to address intractable problems from poverty to climate change. Kéré seeks to do just this, using a mix of low-tech and high design and working in partnership with the communities for whom he builds.

This program presents a series of short films that document Kéré´s hands-on practice and community-based building process. Of focus are several projects Kéré has completed or begun in the past 15 years in Burkina Faso and Germany, where among other endeavors he is building a community performance center for Syrian refugees at Tempelhof Airport, in collaboration with Volksbühne Berlin.

The opening film by British filmmaker Candida Richardson was created for Sensing Spaces: Architecture Re-Imagined at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2014. Richardson’s film will be placed in dialogue with a series of works by filmmaker Daniel Schwartz, produced on the occasion of Francis Kéré: Radically Simple, a major solo exhibition at Architekturmuseum der TU München earlier this year.

The screening will be followed by a public discussion with Mr. Schwartz, moderated by Marlene Rutzendorfer, Harvard University visiting scholar from IFK Kunstuniversität Linz, and also featuring Rahel Shawl, founder and director of RAAS Architects (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and a current Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Justin Tata, senior urban planner at Juba City Council (Juba, Sudan), Suzanne Blier, Allen Whitehill Clowes Chair of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, and Michael Hooper, associate professor of urban planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

While studying at the TU Berlin, Diébédo Francis Kéré set up the association “Schulbausteine für Gando” in 1998 with the objective of combining his European gained knowledge with traditional building techniques from West Africa. He built his first school in Burkina Faso in 2001 and opened his own office “Kéré Architecture” engaging mainly in social projects. An honorary professor at the TU Berlin until 2011, he has also been a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Design and Design Critic in Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He was also appointed Guest Professor at the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture, Switzerland in 2013. In addition, he has won the Global Holcim Award Gold (2012), the Marcus Prize (2011), the BSI Swiss Award (2010), and the Aga Khan Award (2004). Francis Kéré also participated in several exhibitions such as “Small scale big change” at the MOMA (2011) and the “Venice Architecture Biennale” (2016).

Event organized with support from the Goethe Institut.

To view a trailer of Candida Richardson’s Sensing Spaces: Architecture Re-Imagined: Diébédo Francis Kéré, please visit the film’s Vimeo page.

Photo: Lycée Schorge, Koudougou, Burkina Faso, 2016. Daniel Schwartz/Gran Horizonte Media.

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the events office at (617) 496-2414 or events@gsd.harvard.edu.