Organized in partnership with the Architekturmuseum der TU München, Kéré Architecture is proud to present the most comprehensive exhibition yet on Francis Kéré’s work at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. Francis Kéré: Radically Simple chronicles the architect’s life and work through a hybrid of site-specific installations, films, and exhibits. Since the architect’s work is greatly shaped by his personal experience of growing up in Burkina Faso and becoming an architect in Germany, the thematic organization of his past and current projects reflect similar themes: Village, Beyond the village, and Coming Home.
Reciprocally, the design and materiality of the exhibition displays and furniture are also influenced by the work of Francis Kéré. At the threshold of the gallery, visitors enter through a forest of four-meter tall timbers. The passage through the forest not only indicates a sensory transition, it symbolizes the life transition when youths travel into the wild unknown as a tribal initiation.
As an exploration of the theme Village, an installation of curved partition walls covered in hemp burlap echo the strong material texture and formal layout of the architecture from Kéré’s birthplace, Gando. Model stands and a space-frame installation in the second gallery are made from steel rebar adapted from Kéré’s signature flying roof structures. Seating made of bundled wood sticks recall projects with the same material: Louisiana Canopy, Chicago Gathering Place, and the Lycée Schorge facade.
Radically Simple allows visitors to glimpse material artifacts from Kéré’s extensive archive of clay bricks and traditional construction tools as well as never before seen architectural models from projects in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Original photography and films of Kéré’s architecture and building sites where produced especially for the exhibition and shown through a series of embedded media hubs.
Reinforcing the role of education in Kéré’s work both as a theme and catalyst, the final gallery features a one-to-one-scale plan graphic of Kéré’s award-winning Gando Primary School on the floor. Forty custom-fabricated chairs designed after Kéré’s school furniture in Burkina Faso populates this classroom where visitors are encouraged to sit and preview An Architect Between, a documentary made by videographer Daniel Schwartz.
A floor-to-ceiling mock-up of Kéré’s Sensing Spaces pavilion invites visitors to playfully insert colored pencils into black honey-comb panels, creating a colorful installation that changes as more visitors interact with it. The installation was made possible through the generosity of STABILO International GmbH and is meant to raise awareness for the Kéré Foundation. At the end of the exhibition, the 15,000 colored pencils will travel from the museum in Munich to schools in Burkina Faso.