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Diébédo Francis Kéré Wins 2023 Praemium Imperiale

By combining local materials and skills with innovative design and smart engineering solutions, architect Diébédo Francis Kéré wins the coveted award.

Clockwise: Diébédo Francis Kéré at Kéré Architecture, Berlin, May 2023 © The Japan Art Association / The Sankei Shimbun; Gando Primary School, 2001, Burkina Faso
Photo: Siméon Duchoud. Courtesy of Kéré Architecture; Rendering façade of Benin National Assembly. Courtesy of Kéré Architecture

Clockwise: Diébédo Francis Kéré at Kéré Architecture, Berlin, May 2023 © The Japan Art Association / The Sankei Shimbun; Gando Primary School, 2001, Burkina Faso Photo: Siméon Duchoud. Courtesy of Kéré Architecture; Rendering façade of Benin National Assembly. Courtesy of Kéré Architecture

Architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been named the 2023 architecture laureate for the Praemium Imperiale awards by the Japan Art Association.

The Praemium Imperiale is a global arts prize awarded annually by the Japan Art Association. Since its inauguration in 1988, it has become a mark of the arts. Six nomination committees, each chaired by an International Advisor, propose candidates in five fields: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Music and Theatre/Film.

The artists are recognized and awarded for their achievements, for the impact they have had internationally on the arts, and for their role in enriching the global community. Each laureate receives an honorarium of 15 million yen and a testimonial letter. A medal will be presented by Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, in the Awards Ceremony held in Tokyo on October 18, 2023.

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. Kéré had to leave home when he was only 7 in order to be able to attend school. Studying in dark, hot, unventilated classrooms instilled in him the desire to make better buildings and his career as architect. He studied in Germany and established the Kéré Foundation to raise money for his ambition to design and build a school for his birthplace. In all his projects in Africa, Kéré has focused on providing simple, achievable plans for buildings that utilize the skills and energies of the local community – employing traditional building materials and marrying them with modern design. Kéré’s designs weave together elements of traditional African design, with modern architecture, as revealed in the colors of Coachella’s Sarbalé Ke (2019), the wooden patterns of Xylem (2019) at Tippet’s Rise, USA, and his constant referencing of trees – of their central role in providing shade and a social center (Serpentine Pavilion 2017).

The other recipients are:

Painting: Vija Celmins (USA)
Sculpture: Olafur Eliasson (Iceland/Denmark)
Music: Wynton Marsalis (USA)
Theatre/Film: Robert Wilson (USA)

 

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