Kéré designed a primary school for the village of Gando in Burkina Faso in 1999. With the help of residents of the village, construction was completed in 2001. The school’s walls are made from compressed clay, and the ceiling is made of corrugated metal on a steel truss to let air flow freely. The school has three classrooms, separated by shaded outdoor spaces. Photo: Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk
Diébédo Francis Kéré grew up in a small village in Gando, Burkina Faso, before heading to Germany to study architecture. And as a student there, he came up with a very ambitious project.
Diébédo Francis Kéré: How to build with clay... and community
“I wanted to open up better opportunities to other kids in Gando. I wanted to use my skills to build a school. But how do you do that when you’re still a student and don’t have money?” he says in this moving talk. “Fundraising was not an easy task. I even asked my classmates to spend less money on coffee and cigarettes, and sponsor my school project.”
Amazingly, in just two years, Kéré raised $50,000. To hear how he rallied his village to help with the construction of the school — and how he got them to accept his very out-of-the-box idea to construct it out of compressed clay — watch this incredible talk.
Below, see more images of the primary school that Kéré and his village built, as well as the school extension they completed seven years later. Also, take a look at the school’s teacher housing and Kéré’s most recent project, a health center in what he’s dubbed “Opera Village.”
A look inside one of the primary school’s three classrooms. After Gando’s school was built, two neighboring villages were inspired to build their own schools. Photo: Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk
A group of women and girls enjoy the shade outside the primary school. After the building was finished, local authorities opted to pay for the teaching staff. Photo: Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk
One of the challenges of Gando’s school: attracting talented teachers to the rural location. And so, the village built six homes for teachers and their families, which are arranged in an arc to the south of the school. Construction was completed in 2004. Photo: Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk
A detailed look at the roof of the teachers’ housing. The barrel vaults are made of compressed clay and corrugated steel. Photo: Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk
By 2007, more than 280 students from Gando and its surrounding villages had enrolled at the primary school, and the community realized that it needed more room. Once again, the community contributed to building an extension, working with their hands to created the colorful windows and vaulted ceiling. The building was completed in 2008. Photo: Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk
A group of children takes a break under a mango tree outside the Gando school extension. Photo: Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk
Here, a new project: When a large section of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, was washed away in a flood — a section where Christoph Schlingensief had been planning to build an “Opera House for Africa” — Kéré dreamed up the idea for “Opera Village,” a way to help the people who lived there rebuild. The site, which is under construction now, will contain a theater, an arts school and many guest houses. This is a look at the new health clinic on the site. Photo: Francis Kéré
Here, a look at the beautiful façade of the health clinic at Opera Village in Laongo, Burkina Faso. Photo: Francis Kéré
Want to help Diébédo Francis Kéré’s work? Support Schulbausteine für Gando (Bricks for Gando). Visit the organization’s website and check out their Facebook page.