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Admittedly, this took us a while, but here are a few images of the beautiful evening we had at mono.klub #53 with Francis Kéré. Thank you so much for filling up the beautiful space at DAZ in Berlin despite the nasty weather, and thank you Francis for your incendiary talk.

Photographs by Leon Lenk


Dear Friends,

With his infectious sense of optimism, the architect Francis Kéré is a speaker in high demand, so we are particularly proud that he graciously accepted to join us for a talk to celebrate our current issue mono.kultur #46. In cooperation with the DAZ in Berlin Kreuzberg we are pleased to host an evening on the theme of ‘Building Community’, a topic that is deeply ingrained in Kéré’s practice.

Can architecture create a sense of community? Is architecture a social act? These are among the themes Francis Kéré will talk about in a presentation, followed by a moderated conversation between Kéré, our author Fiona Shipwright, and the creative director of the DAZ, Matthias Böttger. All this and more happening on Monday, March 11 at 19h, around a long shared Y-table at DAZ.

We look forward to seeing you there and all our best,


mono.klub #53
Francis Kéré

Celebrating mono.kultur #46
Talk and Moderated Conversation with Fiona Shipwright and Matthias Böttger
‘Building Community’

11.03.2019 / Monday / 19h

DAZ Deutsches Architektur Zentrum
Wilhelmine-Gemberg-Weg 6
10179 Berlin


Join the event on Facebook



Goodbye Mark Hollis – one of the greatest musical talents of our time, who lived in total seclusion for the last 20 years after disbanding Talk Talk. We shall put our computers to rest and listen to Spirit of Eden at full blast right now.


Goodbye Karl – you will be missed.


More from our current issue mono.kultur #46: architect Francis Kéré on architecture, pragmatism and aesthetics.

More than clay and bricks, it is the use of light, colour, and air that is so successful and striking in your work. You’ve spoken before about a formative experience being the time you spent in a classroom that lacked these three things. Were you thinking at the time, ‘I could do this better?’ How did you translate that experience into your own architecture?

I wasn’t so much thinking, ‘I could do this building better’ – I was hoping for the chance to just improve something. Can you imagine sitting in a classroom with more than 50 other kids? When it’s more than 40°C outside? It was so uncomfortable. But that’s the kind of situation where the idea of one day making a difference can begin to grow, as you look at all the sunlight outside and wonder why it’s so dark inside. This marked my childhood, and that thought – ‘One day, if you have the chance: make it better’ – that stayed with me.

There’s an elegance and sensitivity to your buildings that is often assumed to be somehow absent from buildings in remote or undeveloped areas, as if you can only have the function.

Again, I always want to convince. I want the buildings to work but at the same time I want them to be innovative. You could do something that is well ventilated, but pay no attention to how it looks. However, I realised after some of the first buildings were completed that people were amazed by them – by their appearance, their qualities, by the architecture. In creating something that works with the climate, we came up with the elevated roofs that define the school in Gando, also visually. Similarly, the use of bricks introduces a regular form, which in Africa gives a building a higher value. When I realised how impressed people were by these aspects, I thought, ‘Keep doing it like that.’ I realised that beauty is moving people, that elegance and aesthetics really have the power to touch and inspire.

Later, when we were building the teachers’ housing in Gando, I met an old lady who had arrived in the village on her way to a funeral. Despite this, she sat down, and was looking at the arched roofs of the structures. Then I noticed she was talking to herself, addressing the person who was to be buried, saying, ‘Your time is finished, but if you could see the things people are doing here, you would wish you had lived longer so you could have seen it. I will take my time to watch this. Whether I arrive late or early, it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to miss this.’ That was such a powerful energy.

Image: Lycée Schorge, Burkina Faso
Original photography by Iwan Baan


As we slowly stir to life, let’s start 2019 with a few uplifting words from our current issue mono.kultur #46: architect Francis Kéré on his legendary and infectious sense of optimism.

And yet, it feels like there is so little time in the face of global crises like climate change or migration, both of which affect Africa immensely. Does optimism negate the urgency of these issues? Don’t we need to be more pessimistic to accelerate change?

Optimism in this case is not neglecting the urgent problems that we are facing. The issues we are dealing with are serious, big, and dramatic, so of course we have to be conscious of them. But I am not sure being pessimistic would help. I see in crises an opportunity to create and be inventive. They can push us, designers and architects, back to the reality of architecture. We have to be inventive, not pessimistic. The change, of course, needs to come fast, but we should avoid solutions that are not completely thought through, as they may have a negative impact that the next generation will have to fix. For example, if you take the Parisian suburbs, the banlieues, they were quickly developed, but today the city is struggling to deal with these sensitive neighbourhoods, which in urban politics have come to be seen as incubators of problems.

So you’re a pragmatist as much as an optimist.

It’s about being ready to adapt. If you come with ideas sewn up like a corset, with no possibility to change, then they will not work. That’s why I remain so focused on the idea of dialogue. I always ask what is possible: how can we adapt, what do we need to redesign, where can we improve.

So in that regard, do you see building as being a social act in the truest sense of the word? Can it be designed in advance, on paper, or is it meaningless until people are involved?

Once you get people involved, you are transferring ideas. That’s really what the social aspect is about: transfer. It’s not about design so much as a process of communication. Creating a sort of vehicle for an idea. The social impact becomes much bigger, because not only do people gain an object; they gain knowledge. I remember when I was producing some of my designs, I had friends saying, ‘Be careful, people are going to start copying you.’ I was thinking, ‘Oh, but that’s a good thing. If they copy it, it means it’s good.’

Image: Lycée Schorge, Burkina Faso
Photography by Daniel Schwartz


We’re not really talking yet, but hey, Happy new year. 2019, seriously? 2019.

Yes, still off the radar. Merry Christmas. Night night.


We’re on break to investigate the meaning of the word ‘holidays’. What was all that about again? Get some rest and thank you.


Our recommendation for long winter nights: the wonderful and disarming masterpiece Shoplifters, by Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda about a family of outcasts on the fringes of Tokyo. Utterly breathtaking and heartbreaking.