The prize was awarded by the Japan Art Association, which also announced Alabama-based Rural Studio as the recipient of its Grant for Young Artists.
Kéré is based in Berlin though best known for his schools and medical buildings in the remote village of Gando in Burkina Faso, west Africa, where he was born.
The 58-year-old architect, educator, and social activist came into the spotlight in 2004 when his clay-brick Gando primary school received an Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
The following year, he founded his Berlin-based practice Kéré, and subsequently built a number of other projects in the village, including a secondary school (2007), an extension to the primary school (2008) and a library (2009).
Kéré’s best-known work in the UK includes his contribution to the Royal Academy of Arts’ Sensing Spaces exhibition in 2014, and his design of the Serpentine Gallery’s summer pavilion in 2017.
Last year, Kéré became the first African – and the first black architect – to win the Pritzker Prize. His studio’s ongoing work includes the as-yet-unbuilt National Assembly of Benin and the Goethe Institut Dakar.
Announced today (12 September), the Praemium Imperiale is awarded by the Japan Art Association, under the patronage of Masahito, Prince Hitachi, the younger brother of long-time Japanese emperor Akihito, who abdicated in 2019. The award comes with a ¥15 million (£90,000) prize.
It covers ‘fields of achievement not represented by the Nobel Prizes’, with laureates in five different arts categories selected from a list submitted by six international advisers.
The other 2023 laureates are Wynton Marsalis (music), Olafur Eliasson (sculpture), Vija Celmins (painting) and Robert Wilson (theatre/film).
Simultaneously, Rural Studio, an Auburn University project led by British architect Andrew Freear, was awarded the Japan Art Association’s ¥5 million (£30,000) Grant for Young Artists.
Rural Studio is a sustainability-focused off-campus design-build programme, forming part of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture of Auburn University in Hale County, Alabama.
The studio, which was founded more than 30 years ago, has educated more than 1,200 students and built more than 220 community buildings, and is regarded as a world-class design-build programme.
In 2004, the studio started the 20K Project, exploring housing prototypes that are affordable, energy-efficient and resilient, while maintaining high-quality design. This has since evolved into the Front Porch Initiative, which works with housing providers across the US south-east.
A second Grant for Young Artists was awarded to Harlem School of the Arts in New York.
Last year’s Praemium Imperiale for architecture was awarded to the founders of SANAA, Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa.
Previous winners include Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, David Chipperfield and Herzog & de Meuron.