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

  • Gerhard Richter

    In Art We Find Beauty and Comfort

    “I don’t really believe art has power. But it does have value. Those who take an interest in it find solace in art. It gives them huge comfort.” Gerhard Richter, one of the greatest painters of our time, discusses beauty in the era of the internet.

  • Beate Grimsrud

    Who You Are

    A common thread in Beate Grimsrud’s novels is her portrayal of offbeat characters. Find out how the Norwegian writer wishes to broaden the spectrum for normality by becoming “a ladder” for all voices: “I suppose my aim is to include the outsiders.”

  • Sambuichi

    Why Hiroshima Became Green Again

    Hiroshi Sambuichi – one of the leading green architects of our time – here reflects on his hometown Hiroshima and how “the power of nature” helped the landscape to restore so rapidly following the atomic bombings during World War II.

  • Michael Kvium

    Circus Europe

    “It’s a constant pleasure for me that I can get people so worked up.” Join us for a studio visit with painter Michael Kvium, particularly known for his characteristic figurative imagery. He here talks about addressing contemporary issues through his art.

  • Chris Kraus

    Changing Lives

    Experience American writer Chris Kraus, author of the iconic feminist novel ‘I Love Dick’, in this passionate talk about the apolitical art scene and the challenges of being a woman in our contemporary consumer-focused world.

  • Laurie Anderson

    A Virtual Reality of Stories

    In this exclusive video, Laurie Anderson presents her prizewinning virtual reality work from 2017: “I wanted to see what it would be like to travel through stories, to make the viewer feel free,” the legendary multimedia artist says.

  • Paul Auster

    Unhappy Unrest

    Paul Auster is one of the USA’s most important contemporary writers. In this short video, he speaks his mind about the growing right-wing and Donald Trump: “I think he’s the most dangerous being that has ever existed in public office in the United States.”

  • Mika Rottenberg

    Social Surrealism

    She finds her odd “bigger than life characters” on the internet. In her peculiar, dreamlike video works they use their bodies as means of production creating what the artist calls “a spiritual kind of Marxism.” Meet the incomparable Mika Rottenberg!

  • Peter Land

    Man Falling

    Meet an artist who uncompromisingly uses himself in his art. Inspired by his own fears and anxieties Peter Land makes disturbingly humorous work, but it was moral qualms that were behind his groundbreaking video of himself dancing naked.

  • Mika Rottenberg

    Girl Power From Another Century

    Meet the truly original video artist Mika Rottenberg! Here she shares the fascinating story behind her take on Orwell's 'Animal Farm' – a work in which a group of women with extremely long hair turn things around – and take fate into their own hands.

  • Vigdis Hjorth

    I am not a Pretty Postcard

    “Writing is the relationship between head, gut and hand.” Vigdis Hjorth is considered one of the strongest voices in contemporary Norwegian literature. She here shares why it is essential for her well-being to be able to express herself in writing.

  • Yona Friedman

    Architecture of Trial and Error

    “Don't forget that very important cities today started by immigration.” Meet the 94-year-old architect behind 'L’Architecture Mobile', Yona Friedman. He here shares the story of how his years as a refugee sparked his desire to make architecture adaptable.