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Kéré’s Elements

Exhibition at Museo ICO


Four years after the exhibition ‘The Architect is Present,’ which showed the Spanish public the work of five architects marked by a deep social calling and a strong language of sustainability, the ICO Museum in Madrid has just inaugurated a show, again curated by Luis Fernández-Galiano, that focuses on the career of one of the five who were featured back in 2014: Diébédo Francis Kéré. This it does by means of a leitmotiv – the primary elements of architecture – that, beyond chronologies and programs, relates the aesthetic practice of the German architect, art critic, and professor of architecture Gottfried Semper to the aesthetic practice applied by the Burkinabè architect in his own works. Hence, the floor (Fundament), the first element with which Semper described his primitive hut, finds its parallel in the mud-molded plinths of Kéré’s structures, which are able to protect the buildings against floods while giving them the decorum they deserve. For its part, the wall (Wand), linked to braided textiles, has its correlate in the lattices that wrap the African’s constructions to shield them from the harsh sun while allowing breezes to blow through. Finally, the ceiling (Dach), an expression of woodcraft, is analogous to the light roofs that generously shade the interior spaces of the Gando-born architect’s projects. The parallelism between Semper’s elements and Kéré’s allows not only taking a different – more disciplinary – approach to the work of the Burkinabè, but also delving into the continuities that define architecture. ‘Francis Kéré: Primary Elements’ will remain on view through 20 January.

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