After winning the Pritzker Prize in 2022 and having a scholarship at the Yale School of Architecture named after him earlier this year, architect, educator, and social activist Diébédo Francis Kéré can now add another accolade to his growing list: the inaugural Cosanti Medal from The Cosanti Foundation.
The Cosanti Medal has been created to recognize a living individual, firm, or organization that has made a profound contribution to advancing the field of arcology—a portmanteau of architecture and ecology and the guiding ethos of Italian architect Paolo Soleri, who founded Cosanti, a name that combines the Italian words cosa and anti (against things).
Diébédo Francis Kéré, the founder and principal architect of Kéré Architecture, is well known for bringing contemporary forms to new regions and for pioneering new uses of materials. Having been born and raised in Gando, Burkina Faso, Africa with no clean water or electricity, Kéré was inspired to use limited natural resources that are often overlooked to create revolutionary buildings that engage in regional craft traditions and use indigenous, eco-friendly materials. Kéré’s firm, founded in 2005, now has a portfolio that spans from civic infrastructure to temporary installations, that are sited across diverse geographies.
Kéré was named by a jury of individuals within the fields of architecture, landscape and sustainable and social impact design who have a history with the Arizona-based Cosanti Foundation, which was founded in 1965 with a focus on equitable, resilient, and sustainable community designs. The jury comprised Martin-Malikian, Susannah C. Drake, Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Yasaman Esmaili, Youngsoo Kim, Greg Kight, and Chris Cornelius.
“We are excited and proud to introduce The Cosanti Medal and our very first winner, Diébédo Francis Kéré,” said Liz Martin-Malikian, CEO and executive director of The Cosanti Foundation in a press release. “We intend for this arcology award to express our commitment to the importance of accelerating our world’s transition to a net zero and inclusive future. I would also like to express my extreme gratitude to the jury members who dedicated their time and expertise to this effort.
“The social and environmental crisis we are experiencing needs tangible actions to reverse the trend,” added Matteo Di Michele, board chair for the Foundation. “This new initiative is intended to recognize those who are driving positive change to make our communities more resilient, equitable and sustainably integrated with the natural world.”