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Diébédo Francis Kéré wins 2023 Praemium Imperiale Award

Burkinabè architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been named the 2023 architecture laureate for the Praemium Imperiale awards by the Japan Art Association. Praemium Imperiale is an annual award programme that celebrates creatives across the fields of architecture, music, sculpture, painting and theatre or film.

By combining local materials and skills with innovative design and smart engineering solutions, while maintaining a focus on working with local communities, Diébédo Francis Kéré has transformed architecture not only in Burkina Faso, but also across Africa and beyond.

Diébédo Francis Kéré is the architecture laureate for the 2023 Praemium Imperiale awards
Diébédo Francis Kéré is the architecture laureate for the 2023 Praemium Imperiale awards

Born in 1965 in the town of Gando, Burkina Faso, Diébédo Francis Kéré had to leave his home at only 7 years old to be able to attend school. Later he moved to Germany to complete his studies. Here he established the Kéré Foundation to raise money to return to his birthplace to build a school to provide better learning conditions for those in Gando.

After gaining initial recognition with the Gando Primary School, which earned him the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004, Kéré went on to design the Centre for Earth Architecture in Mali,Gando Teachers' Housing in Burkina Faso, the Startup Lions Campus in Kenya and the Kamwokya Community Centerin Uganda. In Europe, Kéré's design of pavilions, including the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion, showcased his ability to create architectural works that respond sensitively to climate and space. In 2022, he became the laureate of architecture’s highest honor, the Pritzker Architecture Prize, further highlighting not only his global recognition but also the significance of adapting local techniques to address the climate crisis and resource scarcity.

Kéré is best known for his numerous projects across Africa

Annually, the imperial family of Japan awards the Praemium Imperiale awards, each granting laureates a sum of 15 million Yen, roughly equivalent to £90,000. Other laureates of the 2023 Praemium Imperiale are Vija Celmins for the Painting section, Olafur Eliasson for Sculpture, Wynton Marsalis for Music, and Robert Wilson for Theatre / Film. Previous editions of the award have selected architecture laureates such as Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA in 2022, Glenn Murcutt in 2021, Tod Williams & Billie Tsien in 2019, and Christian de Portzamparc in 2018.

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Diébédo Francis Kéré wins 2023 Praemium Imperiale Award

October 3, 2023

Art Report Africa

2 min read