Diébédo Francis Kéré’s story is remarkable: He grew up in poverty-stricken Burkina Faso, won a scholarship to study carpentry in Germany, and went on to earn an architecture degree from the Berlin Technical University. While still a student, he built his first project: a school in Gando, his native village, which received a 2004 Aga Khan Award and starred in the recent MoMA exhibition Small Scale, Big Change.
Today, Kéré lives in Berlin but remains focused on designing (and raising money for) sustainable buildings in Africa. His work isn’t going unnoticed. In addition to receiving the 2009 Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, Kéré recently won the BSI Swiss Architectural Award, a $100,000 prize. Here, Architectural Record editor Jenna M. McKnight speaks with Kéré about his background, his current projects, and his aspirations for the future.