Look to West Africa for the Future of Green Architecture

Urban skyline with earth brown to green signalling climate change

The Pritzker Prize-winning architect Francis Kéré uses local materials and an eye for traditional practices to push the global boundaries of sustainability.

May 16, 2022
Kriston Capps - Bloomberg

In 2014, a crowd of demonstrators stormed Burkina Faso’s National Assembly building, setting it ablaze and ending the nearly 30-year rule of President Blaise Compaoré.

A year later, Burkenabè architect Diébédo Francis Kéré was asked to imagine a new parliamentary building — one that would reflect a more democratic future for the West African nation. Kéré conceived a six-story stepped pyramid that slopes up gently from the ground, inviting citizens to gather, climb and take in views of the capital city, Ouagadougou. The ruins of the former parliament building next door would be transformed into a rainwater-collecting memorial park.

The project remains a ways off: Burkina Faso continues to struggle with political unrest, including a coup d’état in January 2022. But Kéré’s fast-growing prominence may improve the odds that his vision will eventually materialize. In March, he became the first African architect to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the design field’s top honor.


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