Study Buddy (Challenger): Diebedo Francis Kere is first African architect to win prestigious Pritzker Prize

  • Study Buddy Challenger is for students who want to take their understanding to the next level with difficult vocabulary and questions that will test their inference skills
  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
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The Pritzker Prize was awarded on March 15 to Burkina Faso architect Diebedo Francis Kere. Photo: AFP

Content provided by British Council

Read the following text, and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] This March, the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s most prestigious award, was awarded to Burkina Faso-born architect Diebedo Francis Kere, making him the first African to win the honour in its more than 40-year history. Kere, 56, was hailed for his “pioneering” designs that are “sustainable to the Earth and its inhabitants in lands of extreme scarcity”, said Tom Pritzker, chairman of the Hyatt Foundation that sponsors the award, in a statement.

[2] Kere is renowned for building schools, health facilities, housing, civic buildings and public spaces across Africa, having completed projects in the nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo, Kenya, Mozambique and Sudan. “He is equally architect and servant, improving upon the lives and experiences of countless citizens in a region of the world that is at times forgotten,” said Pritzker.

[3] Kere won plaudits for his 2001 project for a primary school in Gando village, in Burkina Faso, where he was born. Unlike traditional school buildings which used concrete, his innovative design used local clay fortified with cement to form bricks that helped retain cooler air inside. A wide, raised tin roof protects the building from rain while helping the air circulate, allowing natural ventilation without any need for air conditioning.

[4] Following its construction, the number of students at the school increased from 120 to 700. The success of the project has since led to the creation of an extension, a library and teachers’ housing at the campus.

[5] The Hyatt Foundation statement added that Kere “empowers and transforms communities through the process of architecture”. The architect designed buildings “where resources are fragile and fellowship is vital. Through his commitment to social justice and engagement, and intelligent use of local materials to connect and respond to the natural climate, he works in marginalised countries laden with constraints and adversity”.

[6] In Kere’s native Burkina Faso, the accolade was hailed as a reminder that Burkina Faso should be known internationally for more than a violent insurgency that has gripped the country. “In the current pain of the security crisis, our country must remember that it is also a nation of exceptional men like Francis Kere,” said Dr Ra-Sablga Seydou Ouedraogo, of the Burkinabè non-profit Free Afrik.

[7] In 2017, Kere became the first African architect to design the Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Hyde Park, a prestigious assignment given to a world-famous architect every year. He was also one of the architects behind Geneva’s International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum and has held solo museum shows in Munich and Philadelphia.

[8] “I am totally convinced that everyone deserves quality,” he said in his office in Berlin, where he celebrated his award with his team. “I’m always thinking how can I get the best for my clients, for those who can afford [it] but also for those who cannot. This is my way of doing things, of using my architecture to create structures to serve people, to serve humanity.”
Source: Agence France-Presse, March 16


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. What is the significance of Kere winning the Pritzker Prize, according to paragraph 1?
A. It was the first time the prize was awarded to an Asian architect.
B. It was the first time the prize was sponsored by a private company.
C. It was the first time the prize was awarded to an African architect.
D. It was the first time the prize was given to architects who design buildings made of sustainable materials.

2. Which of the following types of buildings has Kere worked on, according to paragraph 2?
A. educational institutions
B. medical clinics
C. residential buildings
D. all of the above

3. Find a word or phrase in paragraph 3 that means “an expression of praise or approval”.

4. For the primary school Kere designed, list two ways it is different to traditional school buildings, according to paragraph 3. (2 marks)

5. Decide if the following statements about the Gando village school project are True, False or Not Given. (4 marks)
(i) The residents of Gando were hesitant to participate in the design of their school at first.
(ii) The Gando school project’s success is partly responsible for Kere’s reputation today.
(iii) Extensions made to the school include a dormitory for older students.
(iv) This is the first primary school constructed in Gando.

6. What does “the accolade” in paragraph 6 refer to?

7. What does paragraph 7 suggest about the Serpentine Pavilion?
A. It is open to the public throughout the year.
B. It takes on a different physical appearance every year.
C. It is a popular tourist spot.
D. all of the above

8. Label each comment with the individual from the article most likely to have said it. (3 marks)

9. Which of the following best describes the tone of this text?
A. informative
B. argumentative
C. appreciative
D. persuasive

Diebedo Francis Kere hopes to continue using his skills to serve disadvantaged communities. Photo: AFP


1. C

2. D

3. plaudits

4. It is built with local clay fortified with cement. It features a wide, raised tin roof which protects the building from rain and allows natural ventilation without the need for air conditioning.

5. (i) NG; (ii) T; (iii) F; (iv) NG

6. the Pritzker Prize / Kere winning the Pritzker Prize (any one)

7. B

8. (i) Dr Ra-Sablga Seydou Ouedraogo; (ii) Tom Pritzker; (iii) Diebedo Francis Kere

9. A

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