Earlier this year I was asked by mono.kultur – a magazine whereby each issue takes the form of one longread interview – to sit down with architect and fellow Berlin resident Francis Kéré for the conversation that would forge issue #46. It’s probably the most in-depth interview I’ve ever done – and without question one of the most interesting. Kéré talked about his long trajectory from a remote village in Africa to Berlin, his steadfast belief in optimism, and what makes a tree a perfect piece of architecture. I also contributed the introductory text that opens the issue.
“The small room where I wait for the architect Francis Kéré in his Berlin office is filled with models, representations of his work spilling from the shelves onto the table. When Kéré arrives, he takes one look at the setup and decides that it is wrong. We’ll go instead to a nearby restaurant, where he is greeted warmly, but before that he insists on showing me through a space in the process of renovation, just across the courtyard from Kéré Architecture. His office will shortly expand into this space, he explains with breathless, infectious enthusiasm.
This whirlwind of a welcome – the zeal, the readiness to adapt, the emphasis on the social – might also describe Kéré’s particularly grounded approach to architecture and life in general. The trajectory that led him from Gando, a village in his native Burkina Faso, to Germany is an extraordinary one; and yet, while not denying its importance and singularity, the architect prefers to view it as the result of luck, hard graft, and his own stubbornly-held brand of optimism.”
Heartfelt thanks go to mono.kultur for continuing to invest the valuable time and for providing the ample space that is needed to create this kind of publication, and also to Kéré Architecture for being so accommodating and open during the interview process.