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How This 56- Year-Old Architect Became First African To Win Pritzker Prize

Dièbèdo Francis Kere, a Burkino Faso-born architect, has become the first African to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize, which is often referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture.

Kere in expressing appreciation on the goldmine achieved says, “We are humbled and elated to have been awarded the 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize. This award is an opportunity and a responsibility in equal measure and we cannot wait to get to work and live up to what we know is expected and possible.”

Tom Pritzker, chairman of the Hyatt Foundation that sponsors the award, said in a statement on Tuesday that 56 years old engineer Kere, was recognised for his “pioneering” designs that are “sustainable to the earth and its inhabitants – in lands of extreme scarcity.”

Being the first child in his community to have attended school, his experience of learning in a poor building facility inspired him to improve the educational lives of Burkina Faso’s children, using architecture.

After studying architecture in Germany, Mr Kéré returned to his native Burkina Faso and designed a primary school in his hometown of Gando in 2001.

The building was built by local people, who contributed to the workforce and resources, according to the prize’s website.

His highly esteemed work, including permanent and temporary structures( schools, health facilities, housing, civic buildings and public spaces) has been erected in his country of birth, but also across Africa, Europe and the United States.

“He is equally an architect and servant, improving upon the lives and experiences of countless citizens in a region of the world that is at times forgotten,” Pritzker said.

In 2017, Kere became the first African architect to design the Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Hyde Park, a prestigious assignment awarded each year to a prominent architect.

He was also one of the architects behind Geneva’s International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, and has held solo museum shows in Munich and Philadelphia.

“I am totally convinced that everyone deserves quality,” he said in his office, where he celebrated his award with his team.

“I’m always thinking: How can I get the best for my clients, for those who can afford but also for those who can not afford?

“This is my way of doing things, of using my architecture to create structures to serve people, let’s say to serve humanity,” Kere added.

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