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The future of Burkina Faso is literally in the hands of its people

Apr 01, 2024

Francis Kéré, the first African to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize (2022), mentioned the following during his lecture: “Ideas breed more ideas, and it is nice to be creative, but when you don’t have support, nothing can happen. We need people who have faith in us.” The lecture, titled “Bridging the Gap: An Architectural Journey,” was held at Columbia University’s Institute for Ideas and Imagination (II&I) in Paris as part of the series of the annual Sidney N. Zubrow Memorial Lecture.

The lecture was introduced by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Director of the Institute, Professor Μark Mazower. Francis Kéré expressed his gratitude for having been granted the opportunity as a young man to attend school in his home country of Burkina Faso, and then to study architecture in Berlin. He spoke of his dream as a student to return to his home country and build a school. That is exactly what he did. By improving upon the traditional building techniques of his home country, he involved members of his community and together they created the Gando Primary School – literally with their own hands. During the lecture, he also extensively discussed other milestone projects that followed, such as the creation of the Gando Library. He stressed the importance of community involvement, the use of local materials and techniques, and sustainable architecture.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) is one of the main supporters of the Institute for Ideas and Imagination, whose mission is to enable fresh thinking and inter-cultural dialogue. SNF also supports the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Public Humanities Initiative (SNFPHI), which supports public-facing humanities endeavors in Greece and collaborates with other Columbia programs to connect the field of Hellenic Studies with a broad public audience.