Burkina Faso Award-Winning Architect Brings Back a Champion

GANDO, Burkina Faso, June 6 (Reuters) – (On June 6, the story was reworked to fix the architect’s spelling in the first paragraph)

Globally recognized for his innovative and sustainable designs, architect Depidou Francis Kerry was honored as a champion in Burkina Faso over the weekend, on his first visit to his hometown after receiving his first career award.

From the sunroof, Kerry, the first African and black winner of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, took his gold medal to cheering the roadside crowd as he headed to Gando in the dusty southeast corner of the poverty-stricken West African country.

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The locals hugged him and entertained him with music and dancing.

Gando had no school when Kerry, 57, was growing up. The son of a village chief, he left at a young age to attend school in the nearby town of Tenkodogo and was the first person in his community to receive an education.

He returned to visit two schools he designed that were built using local materials and labor, with an emphasis on combating the sweltering heat in the area.

The wide, flat roofs of the buildings are connected to the narrow buildings below by a network of metal rods usually resembling acacia trees that dot the surrounding landscape. Generous shade and thick walls conserve heat.

“I have a feeling of great gratitude and satisfaction from seeing that all the effort we put in together, the work we’ve done together, is being appreciated and people are proud of and realize we’ve done a good job.”

Kerry divides his time between Burkina Faso and Germany, where he studied and established his practice.

The first building he designed was Gando Primary School. Later he added housing for teachers and a library, and the student population grew to about 700 students.

Kerry went on to design schools, health facilities, and public spaces throughout Africa, Europe, and the United States.

The Pritzker, often referred to as the Nobel Prize for Architecture, is awarded annually to visionaries such as Chinese-born I.M. Pei, British-Iraqi Zaha Hadid and Italian Renzo Piano.

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(cover) by Thiam Ndiaga and Anne Mimault; writing by Nelly Peyton; Editing by Edward McAllister and Richard Chang

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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