Francis Kéré in conversation, Serpentine Pavilion 2017

More information

Diébédo Francis Kéré

Diébédo Francis Kéré (b.1965, in Gando, Burkina Faso, west Africa) trained at the Technical University of Berlin in Germany, started his Berlin based practice, Kéré Architecture, in 2005. Kéré Architecture has been recognised nationally and internationally with awards, including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (2004) for his first building, a primary school in Gando, Burkina Faso; LOCUS Global Award for Sustainable Architecture (2009); Global Holcim Award Gold (2011 and 2012); Green Planet Architects Award (2013); Schelling Architecture Foundation Award (2014); and the Kenneth Hudson Award –European Museum of the Year (2015).

Projects undertaken by Francis Kéré span countries, including Burkina Faso,Mali, China, Mozambique, Kenya, Togo, Sudan, Germany and Switzerland. He has taught internationally, including the Technical University of Berlin, and he has held professorships at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Accademia di Architettura di Mendriso in Switzerland.

Kéré’s work has recently been the subject of solo exhibitions: Radically Simple at the Architecture Museum, Munich (2016) and The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community, Philadelphia Museum of Art (2016). His work has also been selected for group exhibitions: Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010) and Sensing Spaces, Royal Academy, London (2014).

Among his main works are the Primary School (2001) and the Library (under construction) of Gando, Burkina Faso; the Health and Social Promotion Center (2014) and the Opera Village (under construction), both in Laongo, Burkina Faso; the Satellite of the Volksbühne Theater at the Tempelhof Airport, in Berlin (temporary installation, 2016); or the Pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery of the year 2017.


Hans Ulrich Obrist (born 1968, Zurich, Switzerland) is co-director of the Serpentine Galleries, London. Prior to this, he was the Curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris. Since his first show ‘World Soup’ (The Kitchen Show) in 1991 he has curated more than 250 exhibitions. Obrist’s recent publications include A Brief History of Curating, Project Japan: Metabolism Talks with Rem Koolhaas, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Curating But Were Afraid to Ask, Do It: The Compendium, Think Like Clouds, Ai Weiwei Speaks, Sharp Tongues - Loose Lips - Open Eyes - Ears to the Ground, along with new volumes of his Conversation Series.


Stefano Boeri, born in 1956, is a Milan-based architect and since June 2011 he is Councillor for Culture, Design and Fashion for the Municipality of Milan. From 2004 to 2007 he was editor in chief of “Domus” international magazine. From 2007 to 2011 he was editor in chief of the international magazine “Abitare”. Professor of Urban Design at the Politecnico di Milano, he has taught as visiting professor at Harvard GSD, MIT, Berlage Institute and Architectural Association, among others. Since 2007 he is the director of the international festival of architecture FESTARCH. Recently he has curated “Sao Paulo Calling” a project about informal settlements, promoted by the Segretaria de Habitaçao of Sao Paulo.

Saskia Sassen

Saskia Sassen was born in The Hague (Netherlands) on 5th January 1949 and obtained her PhD from the University of Notre Dame (USA) in 1974. She is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and Co-Chair of The Committee on Global Thought at the same institution. She is also a visiting professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Saskia Sassen is one of the most prestigious international sociologists in fields such as the social, economic and political dimensions of globalization and urban sociology. She is the only woman to appear among the top ten social scientists in the world, as ranked by the Social Science Citation Index of the last decade, which also include Anthony Giddens, Jürgen Habermas, Zygmunt Bauman and Alain Touraine, all Prince of Asturias Award laureates. Her fields of study also encompass phenomena such as immigration, global cities and changes within the liberal state resulting from current transnational conditions. One of her greatest scientific contributions was her concept of the ‘global city’, now accepted and used worldwide. According to Sassen, the control and management of the world economy emanates from these metropolitan areas, in which economic and financial power as well as that stemming from the main telecommunications networks are concentrated. The main centres of world power are likewise found here, where vital information is generated for top-level decision-making. She also analyses the problems that arise in these cities, such as the impoverishment of the middle classes and the difficulties in accessing telecommunications that create social inequalities and social segregation. In another field and contrary to the dominant approach that considers the global and the national to be exclusive realms, Sassen examines how the disassembling of the national realm (territory, authority and rights), in which denationalizing and deglobalizing dynamics have coincided, constitutes a key process to establishing the global realm. In another field and contrary to the traditional approach, Sassen holds that ‘global’ and ‘national’ are not mutually exclusive concepts and that, as a result of globalization, territory, authority and rights do not always coincide with national spaces.

Her books have been translated into 21 languages, the most significant among which are The Mobility of Labor and Capital (1988), The Global City (1991), Cities in a World Economy (1994), Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (2006), A Sociology of Globalization (2007) and Deciphering the Global: Its Scales, Spaces and Subjects (2007). She has likewise published articles in newspapers such as The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, International Herald Tribune, The Financial Times and Clarín, among others. She has just completed for UNESCO a 5-year project on sustainable human settlement whose conclusions have been published as one of the volumes of the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (UK).

Advisor to a number of international bodies and for several United Nations projects, she is member of the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Cities, of the independent organisation Council on Foreign Relations and of the Information Technology and International Cooperation Committee of the Social Science Research Council (USA). In 2007, she won the Distinguished Graduate School Alumnus Award from the University of Notre Dame (USA) and the Future Mentor Award from the University of Chicago. She holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Delft (Netherlands), Poitiers (France), Gent (Belgium) and Warwick (UK) and from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

She was awarded Prince of Asturias Awards 2013.


Mohsen Mostafavi, architect and educator, is the Dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design. He was formerly Dean of the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University and Chairman of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. He has taught at numerous institutions including the University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge University, and the Frankfurt Academy of Fine Arts (Städelschule).

Dean Mostafavi serves on the steering committee of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and the board of the Van Alen Institute, and has served on the design committees of the London Development Agency (LDA) and the RIBA Gold Medal. He is a consultant on a number of international architectural and urban projects.  His publications include On Weathering (MIT, 1993); Delayed Space (Princeton, 1994); Approximations (AA/MIT, 2002); Surface Architecture (MIT, 2002); Logique Visuelle (Idea Books, 2003); Landscape Urbanism: A Manual for the Machinic Landscape (AA Publications, 2004); Structure as Space (AA Publications, 2006); Ecological Urbanism (Lars Müller Publishers/Harvard GSD, 2010); Implicate & Explicate (Lars Müller Publishers, 2011); and Louis Vuitton: Architecture and Interiors (Rizzoli, 2011).




Our selection