Kere’s “pioneering” designs are “sustainable to the earth and its inhabitants－in lands of extreme scarcity”, said Tom Pritzker, chairman of The Hyatt Foundation that sponsors the award, in a statement.
The dual citizen of Burkina Faso and Germany said he was the “happiest man on this planet” to become the 51st recipient of the illustrious prize since it was first awarded in 1979.
“I have a feeling of an overwhelming honor, but also a sense of responsibility,” said the 56-year-old.
Kere is renowned for building schools, health facilities, housing, civic buildings and public spaces across Africa.
“He is equally architect and servant, improving upon the lives and experiences of countless citizens in a region of the world that is at times forgotten,” Pritzker said.
Kere won plaudits for his 2001 project of a primary school in Gando village in Burkina Faso, where he was born.
Unlike traditional school buildings that use concrete, Kere’s innovative design combined local clay fortified with cement to form bricks that helped retain cooler air inside.
A wide raised tin roof protects the building from rains while helping the air circulate, meaning natural ventilation without any need for air conditioning.
Kere engaged the local community during the design and building phase, and the number of students at the school increased from 120 to 700, said The Hyatt Foundation in its release.
The success of the project saw the creation of an extension, a library and teachers’ housing in later years.
Nebila Aristide Bazie, head of the Burkina Faso architects’ council, said the award “highlights the African architect and the people of Burkina Faso”.
Kere said: “This is my way of doing things, of using my architecture to create structures to serve people, let’s say to serve humanity.”