Out of Africa: Francis Kéré’s community architecture arrives in Philadelphia

Out of Africa: Francis Kéré’s community architecture arrives in Philadelphia

Diébédo Francis Kéré and his Berlin-based architectural firm are known for designing buildings that are good for the environment – and those who use them. Now, as part of its ’Creative Africa’ season, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is hosting ’The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community’.

Kéré was born in Gando, a small village in Burkina Faso and has, through his work, strengthened his commitment to the community that raised him. His first building, a primary school in Gando, was completed in 2001 and received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

This new show features a site-specific, immersive environment designed by the world-renowned architect himself. According to the museum, the exhibition will emphasise ’the collaborative and collective nature of building, responding to local cultures, knowledge, materials, and technologies’ that Kéré has embraced in his work. As American business magazine Fast Company explains, ’African-born architect Diébédo Francis Kéré gets big results by mixing a little mud with a lot of heart’.

Timothy Rub, the George D Widener director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, notes that, ’This season of related exhibitions will offer our visitors a wonderful opportunity to make connections between centuries-old traditions and contemporary artistic practices. We are especially grateful for the loan of a large number of works from the Penn Museum’s world-renowned collection, which will be presented in an exhibition that anchors our celebration of African art.’

It’s a sentiment that directly reflects the international attention and acclaim Kéré has recently been receiving for his firm’s ’community-focused, contextually sensitive work’. This exhibition looks to lift Kéré from cult hero to lauded practitioner.

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