"Step by Step, Sustainable Buildings for Africa" - Francis Kéré

Francis Kéré, a young architect from Burkina Faso based in Germany, has been awarded a special mention in the "Most thought-provoking +X" Projects(4th Cycle) Category of the World Architecture Community Awards for his Dano School project in Burkina Faso. He was the only African architect to make a showing in the World Architecture Community's 4th Cycle Results.

Situated at the edge of a small town in Burkina Faso, the project comprises an L-shaped addition to an existing school complex. 

The design incorporates locally available materials and sustainable features that respond to the specific constraints of climate. 

This new building closes the southern angle of the compound and is oriented to reduce direct sunlight onto the walls, which are themselves protected from the sun by a wave -like canopy. The extension compromises three individual blocks housing classroom, offices and a computer room. 

An oval Amphitheatre, open to the exterior, serves as a sitting area during breaks. 

The ensemble is covered by a tilted, cantilevering roof structure whose undulating bays create a rhythm against the orthogonal enclosure below. 

Walls of locally available laterite.  (laminated with thin layers of cement to form 30 cm thick, load bearing partitions) sit on a granite stone bed. 

Regularly spaced, tall window shutters are painted in bright colours that vary with the activity inside. 

The roof consists of 3 m wide, modular elements assembled from 14 mm and 16 mm thick iron bars and welded together on site. Corrugated roofing fixed to the assemblage protects the interior from the elements. 

Within the classrooms, a wave-like suspended ceiling defined into 3 m bays recalls the exterior structure. Slits in the ceiling allow hot air to exhaust trough the roof, keeping the building naturally ventilated. Comprised of cement stones hanging on the construction of thin, flat rolled steel, the bottom side of the ceiling is painted in reflective white to distribute light within the classrooms. 

Throughout the construction process, local artisans were trained in new techniques, ensuring that building methods would stay within the community.

+ See more photographs of this building. Click Here!

About the Architect

To achieve sustainability, the projects are based on the principles of designing for climatic comfort with low-cost construction, making the most of local materials and the potential of the local community, and adapting technology from the industrialized world in a simple way. 

With his first school in Gando, he taught the local people how to refine clay and local materials, and how different construction techniques could further improve the performance. By that, the instructed people who worked on the construction were able to undertake their own building projects without the need of outside help in the future. 

The aims of Francis Kéré are to further the use and development of traditional building techniques among local communities, and to develop innovative methods and building solutions for extreme climatic conditions.

The deep motivation of the architect in his projects is to promote modern and sustainable architecture in Africa. 

As someone from a rural African community, with more than 80 % of the people being illiterate, who got the chance to attend higher education in Europe, he regards it as his duty to use his skills for the benefit of the people of his home continent. 

"Every child in the world is full of creativity. What children need to use their potential is education. I am convinced that with the provision of intelligent architecture this potential can be advocated. That is what I am trying to do. "

Francis Kéré

Visit the Architect's Website: http://www.kere-architecture.com

Visit the World Architecture Community: http://www.worldarchitecture.org