Graduate Architecture

  • Francis Kéré, photo David Heerde

  • Primary School, Gando, Burkina Faso, 2001, design Kéré Architecture, photo Enrico Cano

  • Secondary School, Gando, Burkina Faso, under construction, design Kéré Architecture

Francis Kéré: Building for Community

Monday, September 26, 2016 6:30pm
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Room B1, Meyerson Hall, University of Pennsylvania School of Design, 210 South 34th Street, Philadelphia
Free and open to the public; no registration required.

Reception and Private View 8:00 – 10:00pm SOLD OUT
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building, 2525 Pennsylvania Avenue, Philadelphia
Free for PennDesign students, faculty and staff; PhilaNOMA members; and Philadelphia Art Museum members; $10 general admission. RSVP by Tuesday, September 20.


The Warren W. Cunningham Lecture celebrating the exhibition The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community, presented by PennDesign, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects.

Diébédo Francis Kéré is an internationally renowned African architect whose focus is towards integrating traditional knowledge and traditions into contemporary African architecture. As the first son of the head of his rural village in Burkina Faso, he was the only child allowed to attend school. After excelling in his studies, Kéré was awarded a scholarship to study and apprentice in Germany where he was eventually accepted into architecture school. Parallel to his studies, he began to raise money for the purpose of building a new school back in his home village of Gando, Burkina Faso. He founded the Kéré Foundation (previously named Schulbausteine für Gando) after graduating with his diploma in architecture and set out to reinvest his hard-earned knowledge back into the community that nurtured him as a child. He returned to Gando with a vision for an improved school design that would change the future trajectory of his village. The Primary School was completed in 2001 and received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for its elegant and simple design using basic construction techniques.

Kéré Architecture has produced international projects in other countries including the Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Switzerland, the Camper Pop-up Shop at Vitra Campus in Germany, the Center for Earth Architecture in Mali and the National Park of Mali. He has contributed works for internationally-acclaimed exhibitions such as Sensing Spaces at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, AFRITECTURE at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, Jeter un Pont at Arc en Rêve Centre d'Architecture in Bordeaux, AFRICA at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek, and the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Projects currently underway are the Benga Riverside Residential Development in Mozambique, an educational campus for the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation in Kenya, and two masterplans for the redesign of former military barracks for the cities of Mannheim and Münster in Germany. 

Kéré is an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects.  He has held professorships at the Harvard Graduate School of Design as well as the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio.