Gando Primary School

Providing passively-cooled school facilities made from affordable local materials

Image courtesy of Kéré Foundation e.V.
Buildings: Material
Education: Primary

Diébédo Francis Kéré was born and raised in Gando, a village in the eastern province of Boulgou, Burkina Faso. He was schooled about 40km outside the village, and was one of the few villagers to receive primary education. After receiving a scholarship to study architecture in Germany, in 1998 Kéré founded the NGO ‘Schulbausteine für Gando e.V.’ to collect donations to build a school in Gando. His objective was to build a comfortable school environment in the village of Gando to inspire its children and to contribute to the development of the community.


Kéré involved the local community of Gando in building a primary school with adequate natural illumination and ventilation to allow students to thrive in their learning environment. The basic structure of the school building comprises of three rectangular classrooms, each with capacity for fifty students. The walls of these classrooms are constructed of a hybrid clay to insulate against heat. The ceilings are vaulted and pierced to allow for natural ventilation. The three classrooms are connected by a large, elevated roof, which protects the buildings from rain and direct sun, and allows air to circulate beneath it. Steel window shutters fold open to let in natural light and cool air, while hot air is released through the pierced ceilings.

Social Impact

The provision of comfortable school premises that are designed to minimise the need for electricity helps to improve educational outcomes for local children whilst keeping operating costs low and minimising the disruptions caused by electricity irregularity. By using local materials that the community is familiar with and involving local artisans in the production of bricks, the construction of walls, the laying of floors and the fabrication of steel window shutters and roof structures, the project developed local skills and built a sense of community ownership.

Environmental Impact

The ecological footprint of Gando Primary School is low, given that it is illuminated and ventilated without electricity. In addition, the materials used in the building process were largely locally sourced and crafted, reducing transport emissions. As clay is abundant in the region, Kéré developed a hybrid of clay, sand, water and a little bit of cement to be used as the main building material. Clay bricks were moulded on site. The large roof of the school protects it from strong rains and damaging heat. The roof was light enough to be raised onto the building manually and the reinforcement bars supporting it were bent and welded on site. The classrooms are equipped with timber furniture, which is also more accessible and less vulnerable to termites than alternatives.

Success Factors

By using local materials and involving local communities, the total cost of the school was kept very low. The total budget for the construction of Gando Primary School was 30,000€, which Kéré collected entirely through donations to his NGO (Schulbausteine für Gando e.V.). Local materials were not only a way to limit costs, but they were more sustainable and better adapted to local climate challenges. Involving the community increased the capacities of Gando’s population and gave them a sense of ownership of the school. The initiative’s success was internationally recognised when it received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004.


The model of Gando Primary School raised attention across the country, as Kéré has been commissioned to build other similar schools across Burkina Faso. This demand has increased the amount of locally trained craftsmen involved in Kéré’s projects in Burkina Faso. He now employs about 300 local builders, welders, carpenters and brick layers, amongst others. The growing demand for Kéré’s initiatives allowed him to set up his own architecture firm – Kéré Architecture – in 2005. In 2022, Kéré received the Pritzker Prize – one of the world’s most prestigious architecture prizes – for the entirety of his architectural work.


Gando Primary School was initially built for 120 children. However, the school quickly increased demand, which required an extension that was completed in 2008. Ever since, this initiative has continued to grow and now enrols more than 700 students. Besides the first extension, it now also comprises of housing for teachers, a sports field and the Gando School Library, which was built in 2015. Kéré continued to develop his techniques, as he integrated clay vessels (handmade by women from Gando) into the ceiling of the library, in order to improve natural illumination and ventilation through larger round openings.


As Gando Primary School was largely built using donations, funding was a significant obstacle in the expansion of this initiative and its model. Kéré continues to seek partners and funding through his NGO, which was re-named the “Kéré Foundation”.

Founded in


Project type
Founded by

Schulbausteine für Gando e.V. (“School Bricks for Gando”)

Non-profit organisation
Founding Organisation Two

No items found.
Founding Organisation Three

Non-profit organisation
Operated by
Households reached
UN Sustainable Development Goal(s)
Last edited on:
June 4, 2024
Shared on:
June 4, 2024

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