The Japan Art Association has named Diébédo Francis Kéré as the Praemium Imperiale laureate 2023 in its Architecture category. Kéré was honored as part of the award’s 34th year and follows 2022 winners Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, founders of SANAA.
The other winners of the 2023 Praemium Imperiale Award were Vija Celmins (Painting category), Olafur Eliasson (Sculpture category), Wynton Marsalis (Music category), and Robert Wilson (Theater-Cinema category).
“Seeking to combine his country's skills and materials with innovative design and relevant engineering solutions, with a priority of working for and with local communities, Diébédo Francis Kéré has transformed architecture not only in Burkina Faso but throughout Africa and well beyond,” the award organizers said in their citation. “This 'thinking differently' is at the heart of Kéré’s architecture, architecture of striking beauty.”
Born in Gando, Burkina Faso, in 1965, Kéré studied architecture at the Technical University of Berlin. In 2005, while living in Berlin, he set up Kéré Architecture and has since designed a portfolio of notable works, including the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion, installations at Coachella, and a pavilion for the Tippet Rise Art Center fashioned from a collection of tree trunks.
Kéré's vocation to become an architect stems from a personal commitment to serve the community he grew up in and a belief in the transformative potential of beauty. He is known for his socially driven approach to architecture and his innovative construction strategies that combine modern engineering with traditional building techniques, particularly in regard to his projects in his home country of Burkina Faso.
In 2022, Kéré was awarded the 2022 Pritzker Prize, considered one of the industry’s highest honors. In 2023, meanwhile, Yale Architecture announced that they would name a new scholarship in honor of the architect.
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