Martha Thorne, Dean of IE School of Architecture and Design, describes why 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate, Francis Kéré, deserved to bag architecture’s top prize

The Pritzker Architecture Prize was created to celebrate architects who have “produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art or architecture.” This prestigious annual award is commonly referred to as the “Nobel Prize of architecture.” It is the profession’s top prize.

From 2005 to 2021, Martha Thorne, Dean of IE School of Architecture and Design, also served as the Executive Director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. She notes that the 2022 awards were integral in showing the “expanding role of architecture in changing our world”. 

Crowning a new winner

Renowned architect Francis Kéré was selected as the winner of the 2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize. The Burkina Faso native has popularized a unique style that combines Afrofuturism and sustainability. Not only do his buildings capture the imagination, but they also make use of locally available construction materials in extraordinary ways. 

In its citation, the Pritzker Architecture jury stated that Kéré is famous for “empowering and transforming communities” through architecture. Martha Thorne agrees, emphasizing that his architecture is both “of service to the community, and it’s an attempt to build community.”

A path to success

Diébédo Francis Kéré was announced in March as the 2022 laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. His win was celebrated at the Marshall Building in London. The ceremony saw Kéré become the first African architect to win the prize. 

Kéré is a multi-talented individual, dedicating his time to architecture, education and social activism. He first burst into the spotlight when he completed his very first building—the Gando Primary School—in 2004. This achievement won him the famed Aga Khan Award for Architecture. 

Since then, Kéré has gone on to become one of the most recognized contemporary architects in the world. He is inspired by the unique culture and character of each project’s location. The Pritzker Prize jury noted that his “cultural sensitivity not only delivers social and environmental justice, but guides his entire process.” 

It goes beyond the limits of the building to express the importance of serving people and the idea that good design is for everyone.” – Martha Thorne

Sustainability through design

Francis Kéré stands out because he is determined to bring good architecture to Africa. He has already done a lot of work in building up his homeland, with projects spanning all corners of the continent. Apart from Gando Primary School, his long list of notable works include the Startup Lions Campus in Kenya and the Lycée Schorge in Burkina Faso.

According to Dean Martha Thorne, Francis Kéré’s architecture has always been “sensitive to the materials and local context.” He has established a long tradition of collaborative work using local resources to complete world-class projects. For Martha, this focus on local resources goes a long way in encouraging sustainability. She goes on to state that Kéré’s architecture is vital because it promotes “the idea that good design is for everyone.” It goes beyond the limits of the structure itself to show the importance of serving people.

Kéré has a number of projects currently ongoing in Europe and the United States. His work is popularizing the principles of collaboration and community in the design process. His unwavering talent, vision, and commitment to good design and sustainability are just some reasons why Francis Kéré is the newest winner of the illustrious Pritzker Architecture Prize.