Our Expertise

Working beyond the realm of most established contemporary architecture practices, we have gathered expert knowledge in a number of areas through our diverse portfolio of projects.

Our approach is local and participatory, learning from and responding to each project’s context and placing a project’s users at the centre of the design process, in order to ask the right questions. It then draws from our legacy of creativity and resourcefulness to respond with sustainable solutions that project an afrofuturistic vision, casting off dominant norms to set our own precedents.

Over time our work has become renowned for defining design characteristics that have emerged from this holistic approach. Favouring local and environmentally sustainable resources, we have explored new ways of transforming materials, gaining particular experience with the use of clay. The concern for thermal comfort stems from a careful study of local knowledge, resulting in the honing of various innovative roof elements.

We believe the solutions the present moment calls for need to be informed by tradition to develop practices suitable for the reality of our time, building something that never was, but for which the foundations have long been laid. 

Kr Architecture Design And Approach Expertise

Approach

Xylem The Visitors Pavilion At The Tippert Rise Art Centre Kr Architecture Photo By Iwan Baan

LOCAL

For Kéré Architecture, the definition of local resources has many layers, all of which are tightly interwoven. We believe that to build in a particular location means to engage actively with all aspects of the building practices of that place.

Perhaps the most significant local resource is the existing built heritage, which teaches us how to adapt to our given context. Local consultants and craftspeople bring an enormous capital of skill and expertise in local construction techniques. With them we endeavour to create a space for knowledge exchange, bringing with us our experience of past projects and applying the lessons learnt to future ones. Finally, we strongly believe that the use of locally available materials is essential to a coherent and sustainable way of building.

It is this comprehensive understanding of local resources that grounds each of our projects in its specific site and context. 

Community Members Transporting Stones For The Construction Of The Gando Primary School Extension Photo By Kr Architecture

PARTICIPATORY

Participation is a guiding principle of Kéré Architecture’s work and has a strong impact on our design approach. It can take an array of different forms and occur at varying stages of a project. 

The users of our designs are always the start and end point of the process. Their involvement sometimes precedes the beginning of our mandate, if the genesis of the project is a community-driven initiative. Where applicable, users participate in shaping the design by contributing their skills, experience and knowledge of the site. Depending on the scale and nature of the project, this can be either organised or informal; during the planning phase, the construction phases, or both. 

In all of our work, the final step of participation is the moment when the users take ownership of the space and define the way it comes to life. They ensure its longevity through maintenance and repair, and at times even make adjustments, which we in turn can learn from. 

Birds Eye View Of The Lo Surgical Clinic And Health Centre Photo By Iwan Baan

SUSTAINABLE

Today the notion of sustainability has lost much of its meaning as a result of disingenuous and narrow interpretations. Kéré Architecture understands its sustainable design approach as one that embraces a complexity of choices, a pragmatic approach that can imply informed compromises. 

Our projects aim to encompass not only the ecological but also the social and economic aspects of sustainability. This means taking into consideration the many consequences of each design decision, both during construction and throughout the lifespan of a completed project. 

Avoiding the need for air-conditioning through passive cooling strategies is ecologically sound while also lowering the running costs of a building. The sculptural brise-soleil façade of the National Assembly of Benin is a justifiable expense, as the shading it provides radically lowers direct sun exposure. The stripping down of eucalyptus poles for the Schorge Campus façades is a labour-intensive process, however the material is locally available, affordable and easily repairable.  

We consider it part of our mandate to address these decisions by weighing the sometimes conflicting benefits of different options.


Lycée Schorge at night_Kéré Architecture_ Photo by Iwan Baan

AFROFUTURIST

Kéré Architecture situates its work within the current of Afrofuturism, exploring ways in which Afrofuturism can become a design practice.

When we think of the future as architects, it is not a sci-fi vision set in a distant future, but rather the tangible prospect of a completed project. While other creative disciplines have approached Afrofuturism as a way of challenging our collective imagination with radically alternative narratives, architecture is required to work within the reality of its present context if it is to be relevant. It is this seeming contradiction that brings us to position ourselves at the intersection of utopia and pragmatism.

Our projects explore the potential of a hybrid of high- and low-tech, pioneering cutting edge technology in rural settings while rejecting ill-fitting imported models to emancipate them from planned obsolescence. Combinations of organic and industrial materials are given bold and dynamic form, producing a distinct futuristic aesthetic.

By translating Afrofuturism into an architectural language and giving it a physical presence in the contemporary landscape, we aspire to feed the imagination with a vision that is grounded yet fiercely forward-looking.

LOCAL

For Kéré Architecture, the definition of local resources has many layers, all of which are tightly interwoven. We believe that to build in a particular location means to engage actively with all aspects of the building practices of that place.

Perhaps the most significant local resource is the existing built heritage, which teaches us how to adapt to our given context. Local consultants and craftspeople bring an enormous capital of skill and expertise in local construction techniques. With them we endeavour to create a space for knowledge exchange, bringing with us our experience of past projects and applying the lessons learnt to future ones. Finally, we strongly believe that the use of locally available materials is essential to a coherent and sustainable way of building.

It is this comprehensive understanding of local resources that grounds each of our projects in its specific site and context. 

PARTICIPATORY

Participation is a guiding principle of Kéré Architecture’s work and has a strong impact on our design approach. It can take an array of different forms and occur at varying stages of a project. 

The users of our designs are always the start and end point of the process. Their involvement sometimes precedes the beginning of our mandate, if the genesis of the project is a community-driven initiative. Where applicable, users participate in shaping the design by contributing their skills, experience and knowledge of the site. Depending on the scale and nature of the project, this can be either organised or informal; during the planning phase, the construction phases, or both. 

In all of our work, the final step of participation is the moment when the users take ownership of the space and define the way it comes to life. They ensure its longevity through maintenance and repair, and at times even make adjustments, which we in turn can learn from. 

SUSTAINABLE

Today the notion of sustainability has lost much of its meaning as a result of disingenuous and narrow interpretations. Kéré Architecture understands its sustainable design approach as one that embraces a complexity of choices, a pragmatic approach that can imply informed compromises. 

Our projects aim to encompass not only the ecological but also the social and economic aspects of sustainability. This means taking into consideration the many consequences of each design decision, both during construction and throughout the lifespan of a completed project. 

Avoiding the need for air-conditioning through passive cooling strategies is ecologically sound while also lowering the running costs of a building. The sculptural brise-soleil façade of the National Assembly of Benin is a justifiable expense, as the shading it provides radically lowers direct sun exposure. The stripping down of eucalyptus poles for the Schorge Campus façades is a labour-intensive process, however the material is locally available, affordable and easily repairable.  

We consider it part of our mandate to address these decisions by weighing the sometimes conflicting benefits of different options.


AFROFUTURIST

Kéré Architecture situates its work within the current of Afrofuturism, exploring ways in which Afrofuturism can become a design practice.

When we think of the future as architects, it is not a sci-fi vision set in a distant future, but rather the tangible prospect of a completed project. While other creative disciplines have approached Afrofuturism as a way of challenging our collective imagination with radically alternative narratives, architecture is required to work within the reality of its present context if it is to be relevant. It is this seeming contradiction that brings us to position ourselves at the intersection of utopia and pragmatism.

Our projects explore the potential of a hybrid of high- and low-tech, pioneering cutting edge technology in rural settings while rejecting ill-fitting imported models to emancipate them from planned obsolescence. Combinations of organic and industrial materials are given bold and dynamic form, producing a distinct futuristic aesthetic.

By translating Afrofuturism into an architectural language and giving it a physical presence in the contemporary landscape, we aspire to feed the imagination with a vision that is grounded yet fiercely forward-looking.

Design

Gandoprimaryschool Franciskr Krarchitecture

THERMAL COMFORT

Thermal comfort – the feeling of wellbeing experienced in a space that is neither too hot nor too cold, neither too humid nor too dry, neither too drafty nor the air too stale – is a fundamental architectural quality that designers and builders have strived for in an array of different climates for centuries. 


Today, with the effects of climate change producing increasingly extreme and inhospitable conditions, the tendency has been to promote solutions that are economically unaffordable, ecologically disastrous, and which disregard the logic that underlies many traditional building practices. 

Starting with the Gando Primary School, Kéré Architecture adopted a number of natural ventilation strategies to create a fresh and pleasant environment, without the need for an air-conditioning system.  

Since then, we approach each new project by determining the challenges posed by the local climate and drawing from the wealth of knowledge to be found in tried-and-tested solutions. 



Traditional Clay Wall On Display At Francis Kr Primary Elements At Museo Ico Photo By Kr Architecture

CLAY

Over the course of two decades building on the African continent, Kéré Architecture has acquired in-depth expertise of working with clay. 

As a naturally occurring and readily available organic material, clay is both affordable and environmentally sustainable. Clay walls also provide thermal mass, absorbing heat throughout the day and improving a building’s thermal comfort. 

Many of our built projects are made of compacted earth bricks produced directly on site, used in combination with structural elements made of reinforced concrete. Since 2011, we have been fine-tuning an innovative method of casting walls using a mixture of clay, aggregates and minimal amounts of cement. 

In many of the regions in which we build, clay is gradually being replaced by concrete and various imported construction materials. By showcasing the potential of clay as a desirable and contemporary building material, our projects also play a political role in promoting a reappropriation of vernacular building practices. 


Detail Of Wall And Roof Of Serpentine Pavilion Kr Architecture Photo By Jim Stephenson

CANOPIES

One of the defining architectural features of many Kéré Architecture buildings is the canopy that shelters them. A recurring source of inspiration is the crown of a tree, the way sunlight is filtered or the sensation of air flowing though leaves and branches.

For Xylem or the Serpentine Pavilion, the role of the canopy is to create a specific atmospheric quality in the space, projecting incoming daylight through the use of perforations or slats to create a pattern of shadows on the ground.

In several projects, the challenge of cooling down the inner space is met by separating roof and ceiling into two distinct elements. The ceiling’s material depends on the desired spatial characteristics: suspended wood cladding for acoustic quality, brick vaults that provide greater thermal mass or modular plaster elements that diffuse indirect sunlight. In each case, gaps or perforations allow warm air to escape upwards. Raised above it by steel trusses, the corrugated roof shelters the ceiling from sun and rain and allows air to flow between the two layers. The roof extends as generous cantilevers, protecting the walls from wind-driven rain and offering shaded areas around the perimeter of the building. 


Deatil Of Wall Of Replica Of Serpentine Pavilion At Museo Ico Photo By Kr Architecture

TEXTURE

An essential characteristic of Kéré Architecture’s work is the creation of textures; the richness that is conferred on each surface by the way it is treated. 

Often, it is the metamorphosis of a raw material, such as the stripped-down eucalyptus wood poles that form the ethereal fabric that wraps around the classrooms of Lycée Schorge, or the raw earth cast to produce the smooth clay walls of IT University.

The Serpentine Pavilion shows how simple modules in repetition come together to form intricate patterns, while the polychromatic elements of the Sarbalé Ke form a bold geometry on a monumental scale. On the façades of the National Assembly of Benin, the brise-soleil intertwine like the weave of a basket. 

At the Léo Doctors’ Housing, it is simply the palette of ochre-rendered walls contrasted against the clear blue sky.

In some cases, the emphasis is put on showcasing the innate beauty of a specific local material, for example the deep red laterite stone used for the Noomdo Orphanage in Koudougou, Burkina Faso.  


THERMAL COMFORT

Thermal comfort – the feeling of wellbeing experienced in a space that is neither too hot nor too cold, neither too humid nor too dry, neither too drafty nor the air too stale – is a fundamental architectural quality that designers and builders have strived for in an array of different climates for centuries. 


Today, with the effects of climate change producing increasingly extreme and inhospitable conditions, the tendency has been to promote solutions that are economically unaffordable, ecologically disastrous, and which disregard the logic that underlies many traditional building practices. 

Starting with the Gando Primary School, Kéré Architecture adopted a number of natural ventilation strategies to create a fresh and pleasant environment, without the need for an air-conditioning system.  

Since then, we approach each new project by determining the challenges posed by the local climate and drawing from the wealth of knowledge to be found in tried-and-tested solutions. 



CLAY

Over the course of two decades building on the African continent, Kéré Architecture has acquired in-depth expertise of working with clay. 

As a naturally occurring and readily available organic material, clay is both affordable and environmentally sustainable. Clay walls also provide thermal mass, absorbing heat throughout the day and improving a building’s thermal comfort. 

Many of our built projects are made of compacted earth bricks produced directly on site, used in combination with structural elements made of reinforced concrete. Since 2011, we have been fine-tuning an innovative method of casting walls using a mixture of clay, aggregates and minimal amounts of cement. 

In many of the regions in which we build, clay is gradually being replaced by concrete and various imported construction materials. By showcasing the potential of clay as a desirable and contemporary building material, our projects also play a political role in promoting a reappropriation of vernacular building practices. 


CANOPIES

One of the defining architectural features of many Kéré Architecture buildings is the canopy that shelters them. A recurring source of inspiration is the crown of a tree, the way sunlight is filtered or the sensation of air flowing though leaves and branches.

For Xylem or the Serpentine Pavilion, the role of the canopy is to create a specific atmospheric quality in the space, projecting incoming daylight through the use of perforations or slats to create a pattern of shadows on the ground.

In several projects, the challenge of cooling down the inner space is met by separating roof and ceiling into two distinct elements. The ceiling’s material depends on the desired spatial characteristics: suspended wood cladding for acoustic quality, brick vaults that provide greater thermal mass or modular plaster elements that diffuse indirect sunlight. In each case, gaps or perforations allow warm air to escape upwards. Raised above it by steel trusses, the corrugated roof shelters the ceiling from sun and rain and allows air to flow between the two layers. The roof extends as generous cantilevers, protecting the walls from wind-driven rain and offering shaded areas around the perimeter of the building. 


TEXTURE

An essential characteristic of Kéré Architecture’s work is the creation of textures; the richness that is conferred on each surface by the way it is treated. 

Often, it is the metamorphosis of a raw material, such as the stripped-down eucalyptus wood poles that form the ethereal fabric that wraps around the classrooms of Lycée Schorge, or the raw earth cast to produce the smooth clay walls of IT University.

The Serpentine Pavilion shows how simple modules in repetition come together to form intricate patterns, while the polychromatic elements of the Sarbalé Ke form a bold geometry on a monumental scale. On the façades of the National Assembly of Benin, the brise-soleil intertwine like the weave of a basket. 

At the Léo Doctors’ Housing, it is simply the palette of ochre-rendered walls contrasted against the clear blue sky.

In some cases, the emphasis is put on showcasing the innate beauty of a specific local material, for example the deep red laterite stone used for the Noomdo Orphanage in Koudougou, Burkina Faso.