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Relevance of Place: Francis Kéré

Shannon Jackson interviews architect and artist Francis Kéré on how the community spaces in his village in Burkina Faso influences his award-winning international designs, including Xylem at Tippet Rise. In this episode, Kéré recalls key moments in the development of his career, including times when an artistic imagination upended some of the functional goals of architectural design. Watch as he describes the connection between content and form in his work, and how “the tree” inspires his perspectives on shelter, community gathering, sustainability, and what he calls “material opportunism.”

Filmed in October 2022.

Francis Kéré

Francis Kéré of Kéré Architecture is an internationally renowned Burkinabè architect and the 2022 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. He is recognized for his pioneering approach to design and sustainable modes of construction. His vocation to become an architect comes from a personal commitment to serve the community he grew up in, and a belief in the transformative potential of beauty.

In 2004, his first building – the Gando Primary School, which he designed, raised funds for and realized in collaboration with the residents of his hometown– was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. In 2005 he founded his architectural practice, Kéré Architecture, as well as the Kéré Foundation, a non-profit organization that pursues projects in Gando.

Since then, Kéré has gone on to become one of the world’s most distinguished contemporary architects, working on projects, exhibitions, and teaching engagements across four continents.

Shannon Jackson

Shannon Jackson holds the Hadidi Professorship at the University of California, Berkeley, where she currently serves as Chair of the History of Art Department. Jackson is a scholar and educator of cross-media art practice and of socially-engaged art. A Guggenheim fellow and award-winning author, she has published several books and online platforms, including Back Stages (2022), Public Servants (2016), The Builders Association (2015), Social Works (2011) as well as In Terms of Performance and Media Art 21. Jackson serves on the boards of several arts organizations, including Oakland Museum of the Arts, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Headlands Center for the Arts, the Minnesota Street Project Foundation, and the Kramlich Art Foundation. As a guest program advisor to Tippet Rise, Jackson helped to create the Relevance of Place series of site-specific dialogues.

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