This phrase caught my eye during Diébédo Francis Kéré's speech at the AAICO (Architecture and Art International Congress), which took place in Porto, Portugal from September 3 to 8. After being introduced by none other than Eduardo Souto de Moura, Kéré began his speech with the simplicity and humility that guides his work. His best-known works were built in remote places, where materials are scarce and the workforce is of the residents themselves, using local resources and techniques.
Instead of imposing structures and a new way of living for users, Kéré seeks to understand the real demands of the place, the traditions of the residents, their way of living, contributing the technical knowledge acquired abroad to create new functional spaces. Not that this process is always easy. In the design phase, before he reaches a village and iterates how things should be done and how people should work, it can lead to mistrust. However, it is when drawing on the ground, being with people, testing solutions, giving new uses to materials that have always been there, that he can gain trust and respect. And for his architecture, it is imperative that all members feel involved in the process, contributing with its work force and knowledge to an end product that belongs to everyone.
They are simple yet extremely ingenious design solutions that take into account the local climate and possibilities. For instance, clay pots that create zenith openings in the library of the Primary School in Gando, which act as skylights that guarantee the entrance of natural light and air circulation. Or his solution to insert buckets with water near frames for a greater airpath and a significant decrease in internal temperature at Lycee Schorge Secondary School. Using filters and layers for ventilation and shading, creating intermediate spaces, the careful use of traditional materials and living vegetation, are many of the elements that transform these projects into masterpieces.
Above all, its architecture has a pedagogical function, inspiring the local community and showing that the future may be a little more colorful. In a world where architecture remains a luxury, Francis Kéré shows us that it can be universal and still a thrill.