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The Cosanti Foundation presents winner of inaugural medal

Posted 5/25/23

The Cosanti Foundation announced the winner of its inaugural Cosanti Medal as African architect, educator and social activist Diébédo Francis Kéré.

The first of its …

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The Cosanti Foundation presents winner of inaugural medal


The Cosanti Foundation announced the winner of its inaugural Cosanti Medal as African architect, educator and social activist Diébédo Francis Kéré.

The first of its kind from the foundation, the medal recognizes a living individual, firm or organization that has made a profound contribution to advancing the field where arcology enriches everyday life, a press release stated.

The Cosanti Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with two properties in Arizona that seeks to demonstrate a kind of construction and community that offers an alternative to sprawl development and a solution to modern social and environmental crises.

“We are excited and proud to introduce The Cosanti Medal and our very first winner, Diébédo Francis Kéré,” CEO/Executive Director Liz Martin-Malikian said in the 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.”

Born in Gando, Burkina Faso, Africa, and based in Berlin, Germany, Francis Kéré empowers and transforms communities through the process of architecture, according to the release. He grew up with no clean water or electricity; yet, he was inspired by the limited natural resources that most people around him had taken for granted, leading him on a journey that has made him one of the world’s most renowned architects.

Francis Kéré’s buildings are humble and revolutionary — poetic, light-filled structures internationally celebrated for engaging regional craft traditions and indigenous, eco-friendly materials, the release stated. He is known for civic projects, particularly schools, that employ both local labor and locally sourced materials such as clay and eucalyptus wood.

Other accolades Francis Kéré has received include the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine’s Global Award for Sustainable Architecture (2009), BSI Swiss Architectural Award (2010), the Global Holcim Awards Gold (2012, Zurich, Switzerland), Schelling Architecture Award (2014), Arnold W Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts & Letters (2017) and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture (2021).

“The social and environmental crisis we are experiencing needs tangible actions to reverse the trend,” said The Cosanti Foundation Board Chair Matteo Di Michele. “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.”

Building upon the concept of arcology, the award criteria included design with a social impact, innovative building method or practice, entrepreneurship and innovation for resilience, learning by doing, ecologically low-impact or limited footprint and balance between architecture and ecology (arcology), the release explained.

Particular attention was given to built work that uses local resources and appropriate technology in innovative ways and projects likely to inspire similar efforts elsewhere.

The Cosanti Medal winner was determined by a panel of jurors who are leaders in the fields of architecture, landscape and sustainable and social impact design including Martin-Malikian as well as Susannah C. Drake, Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Yasaman Esmaili, Youngsoo Kim, Greg Kight and Chris Cornelius.

They all have connections to and stories of how Soleri and Arcosanti have influenced their careers and design thinking.

For more information about The Cosanti Foundation, visit arcosanti.org and cosanti.com.