Foundation 23 - Re-materializing Construction

19 Francis Kéré Francis Kéré explained that this was why his first building project in Burkina Faso met so much resistance. When he wanted to build a school in Gando after he finished his studies in Germany, everyone was initially proud. There was no school in the village at that time. But when the residents found out that the school was to be built of clay, they were disappointed. “Because in the eyes of the people of Burkina Faso, a schoolhouse is something from France,” explained Francis Kéré. “And it therefore has to be made of glass, concrete and steel.” This is a big problem in Burkina Faso, the architect said. “We love Europe – but in the end, we’re just left with cheap copies.” Francis Kéré chose a different path. “I wanted to use the most widely avail- able material.” So, despite the initial resistance of the population, he opted for clay as a building material, which was processed us- ing the local workforce. Because many of the construction workers could neither read nor write, the architect deployed aids such as mockups. The building that thus arose is simple but effective. At a place where average temperatures of 40°C prevail, cooling is imperative. Francis Kéré relied on simple means of cooling such as many openings and a simple ventilation system. In the meantime, “In the eyes of the people of Burkina Faso, a schoolhouse is something from France. And it therefore has to be made of glass and concrete and steel.” the local population has become convinced of the new schoolhouse – and the building is still in top condition. “This is the way we have to go,” said the winner of the Global LafargeHolcim Awards Gold 2012, “adapt- ed to the local environment and inspired by tradition.” This principle can be applied to more than choosing the right building materials. Burkina Faso also displays vernacular