Diébédo Francis Kéré

Diébédo Francis Kéré

Architecture is About People

Meet the award-winning Burkinabé architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, who here shares his thoughts on the impact of architecture in connection to his socially conscious and stunningly beautiful installation ‘Louisiana Canopy’.

With the ‘Louisiana Canopy’ – which is exhibited at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark – Kéré wanted to create a form of flexible gathering space for the museums’ visitors, which is not only reminiscent of being in Africa, but also gives people a choice of how they want to interact with it due to the different levels of its structure: “They’re free to use the space like they behave, like they feel.”

“I have learned by experience that people that took part in the construction, in building a structure, feel themselves connected to the structure. You are creating a local identity.” The ‘Louisiana Canopy’ project is highly representative of Kéré’s work, as it made entirely from local material – which in this case is wood from fast-growing trees (unbarked willow branches and logs) – and is constructed in collaboration with the museum, which also makes the construction process local.

“Architecture is about people.” Kéré explains that creating the ideal space – the ideal surroundings – is a way to allow people’s ideas to flourish. In e.g. a classroom, if the space is well ventilated, this will promote the children’s ability to learn, because the environment is comfortable. There is of course also the architecture of necessity, which responds to and fulfils a basic need. But if you have a way of backing it up financially, you can further develop it, think outside the box and turn it into something that truly inspires people: “Architecture is really strong and can do more than we expect.”

Diébédo Francis Kéré (b. 1965) is an architect from the small West African town of Gando in Burkina Faso. He was the first child in the village to be sent to school, and since no school existed in Gando, Kéré had to leave his family when he was seven years old to live with his uncle in the city. He started his architecture studies at the Technical University of Berlin where he earned his diploma in Architecture and Engineering. In 1998, while still a student, Kéré established his charitable foundation ‘Schulbaunsteine für Gando’ (Bricks for Gando) to fund the construction of a primary school for his village. The school was completed in 2001 and received the ‘Aga Khan Award for Architecture’. In 2005 he founded Kéré Architecture and his work has been recognized with numerous prestigious awards such as the ‘Global Award for Sustainable Architecture’, the ‘BSI Swiss Architectural Award’, the ‘Global Holcim Gold Award’ and the ‘Schelling Architecture Award’. Furthermore, his work in Burkina Faso has earned him an honorary fellowship for the American Institute of Architects and a membership of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Kéré has held professorships at the Harvard Graduate School of Design as well as the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio. For more about Kéré Architecture see: http://www.kere-architecture.com/

Diébédo Francis Kéré was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in June 2015 in connection to the exhibition ‘AFRICA – Architecture, Culture and Identity.’

Camera: Julie Madsen
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2015

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Cathrine Raben Davidsen

    Paintings of Loss

    Artist Cathrine Raben Davidsen was only 13 years old when she lost her father. “I started making art because I lacked words. Art was my way of dealing with loss.” Meet an artist whose work is a meditation on loss, both personal and societal.

  • 8 Artists on Sound

    Captivating, agonizing, nostalgic – sound can induce a plethora of experiences. In video artist Bill Viola’s words: “like angels, sound can cross between the physical and the nonphysical world.” Hear how he and 7 other artists inhabit the sonic world.

  • Linn Ullmann

    At That Point it Became Possible to Write

    “Subterfuge is very liberating. It helps you be as truthful as you can.” Award-winning writer Linn Ullmann discusses memory and autobiography on the occasion of her latest novel, which treats the relationship between herself and her famous parents.

  • Carlos Cruz-Diez

    The Colours We Create

    “I always say that I do not make paintings or sculptures, I make support for events.” Follow Carlos Cruz-Diez, leading figure in Op Art since the 1960s, into a world of chromatic experience.

  • Carlos Cruz-Diez

    Advice to the Young

    Franco-Venezuelan artist Carloz Cruz-Diez has a lifetime of advice saved up for young artists – even though they may not want to listen. “They should do what I did: try to invent art and new discourses.”

  • Karl Ove Knausgård

    Literature Should be Ruthless

    Karl Ove Knausgård has enchanted the literary world with ‘My Struggle’, a novel of more than 3000 pages about his own life. Watch the star author discuss literature, writing and how his autobiographical style is closely connected to fiction.

  • Ann Veronica Janssens

    Passion for Light

    Step into the laboratory of an artist whose main material is light. Whether solid, liquid or gaseous Ann Veronica Janssens uses light in all its forms “to show the manifestations of reality in a different way.”

  • Athi-Patra Ruga

    A Glimpse of Utopia

    “Somehow resistance is what validates an identity. Growing up gay, black and non-Christian, it kind of is something I love playing with.” Athi-Patra Ruga's sensuous work makes us question everyday life.

  • Catherine Opie

    A World Beyond Selfies

    “I was never an optimist in thinking that my images would change laws. But I certainly thought that I would be able to create a history.” Catherine Opie, photographer of minority groups and subcultures, can be both political and very internal.

  • Peaches

    Love Your Vagina

    ”It’s most important right now that men be feminists. If women say they aren’t it’s only because the word is not relating to them and we need to find new terms.” Electronic musician and performance artist Peaches wants us to question norms.

  • Alex Da Corte & Jørgen Leth

    Eminem and Warhol

    Two American icons portrayed eating. Young Alex Da Corte, who impersonated Eminem for a year, was inspired by film director Jørgen Leth, who made an iconic scene with Andy Warhol. Here they meet on stage to talk about the stunning parallels.

  • Tomas Espedal Meets

    Karl Ove Knausgård

    For the first time ever the two giants in Scandinavian literature, Norwegian writers Tomas Espedal and Karl Ove Knausgård, meet on stage – about writing their autobiographical novels where you "have to proceed even though you feel the danger."