Séri Youlou, a former farmer, was born in Boromo in Burkina Faso. For his part, Thomas Granier is a mason by training, born in the small village of Gange in France. Although nothing predestined their paths to cross, the partnership of these two men has proven key to countering the lack of decent and affordable housing in sub-Saharan Africa.
Thomas Granier was the first to conceive of the Association de la Voûte Nubienne (AVN, Nubian Vault Association), which was established in 2000. Together, he and his field collaborator, Séri Youlou, trained local masons in the architectural technique of vault-building. In addition to revitalizing the local economy by creating a skilled workforce, they made it possible for people to obtain adequate and sustainable housing.