Natural flow
Wallpaper|May 2021
Francis Kéré’s perfectly ventilated, termite-inspired Kenyan campus is a breath of fresh air
ELLIE STATHAKI

Turkana County in Kenya is a large expanse of beautiful yet arid land of low bushes and occasional trees, home to Lake Turkana, the country’s largest landlocked body of water and the biggest desert lake in the world. Termite mounds, buzzing with activity and up to several metres high, are dotted around the region’s gently undulating landscape. It was these tall structures that first caught the eye of Berlin-based architect Francis Kéré when he started researching the area for one of his latest commissions – an education campus on the lake’s banks.

In 2019, Kéré was in Munich for the Global Africa Forum organised by the city’s Technical University. There, he met Ludwig Bayern, founder and CEO of Learning Lions, a non-profit organisation that works to empower young adults in impoverished rural areas of Eastern Africa. Together, the pair decided to build a school by Lake Turkana – a higher education facility that would offer valuable IT knowledge to the county’s youth. This part of Kenya offers immense natural beauty, but it is also the country’s poorest region, with high unemployment rates. ‘The NGO wanted to support development in the area, to create opportunities,’ says Kéré. ‘It wanted to give the area a boost and the people a better future.’ The project was named Startup Lions Assets Kenya (SLAK).

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