Lesley Lokko wins the 2024 Royal Gold Medal
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Lesley Lokko wins the 2024 Royal Gold Medal

Lesley Lokko wins the 2024 RIBA Royal Gold Medal for her commitment to democratizing architecture

Lesley Lokko wins the 2024 Royal Gold Medal
By Editorial Staff -

The 2024 Royal Gold Medal has been awarded to Ghanaian-Scottish architect Lesley Lokko. Awarded annually by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on behalf of His Majesty The King, the Royal Gold Medal is one of the highest honors in the world of architecture. This year’s recipient was the founder of the African Futures Institute in Accra, Ghana, who was recognized for her commitment to championing innovative approaches to architectural practice and education.

For over two decades, Lesley Lokko has dedicated her career to a giving a voice to those who have none, and analyzing the complex relationship between architecture, identity, and race. Her commitment to “democratizing architecture” was recognized by the members of the RIBA Honours Committee as a call for more equitable representation in the planning and policies that shape our spaces.

Lokko will receive her Royal Gold Medal on May 2 in London.

18. Mostra Internazionale di Architettura, Lesley Lokko ©Jacopo Salvi, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

 

The reasons for the award

Lesley Lokko’s work as a writer, educator, and curator have seen her influence extend far beyond the world of architecture. The RIBA wished to highlight her important contributions in this area, whose boundaries she has significantly extended.

Lokko’s architecture is about ideas and content, not just function. It’s therefore both accessible to all and a clarion call for more equitable urban planning policies. Her work has left its mark on the most diverse cultural landscapes, from the USA to the United Kingdom, from South Africa to Ghana.

“A fierce champion of equity and inclusion in all aspects of life, Lesley Lokko’s progressive approach to architecture education offers hope for the future – a profession that welcomes those from all walks of life, considers the needs of our environment, and acknowledges a broad range of cultures and perspectives. A visionary agent of change, Lesley has dedicated her life to championing these values, not only through academic endeavors, but through her work as an author and curator. She remains a humble revolutionary force, with her ambition and optimism etching an indelible mark on the global architectural stage.”

Muyiwa Oki, RIBA president

18. Mostra Internazionale di Architettura 2023, La Biennale di Venezia; Kaneshie market from the air, Kaneshie, Accra, Ghana ©Festus Jackson Davis, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

 

>>> David Lake and Ted Flato win the 2024 AIA Gold Medal

 

In the words of Lesley Lokko

“I’m delighted to be considered alongside some of the great past winners of the Royal Gold Medal. Although this is a personal award, this isn’t merely a personal triumph, this is a testament to the people and organizations I have worked with that share my goals. I came into architecture seeking certainties, looking for answers. Instead, I found questions and possibilities, far richer, more curious, and more empathetic ways to interpret and shape the world. Architecture gave me language, in all its forms, and that language has given me such hope.”

Lesley Lokko © Festus Jackson Davis, courtesy of RIBA

 

Who is Lesley Lokko

In teaching architecture, Lesley Lokko aims to democratize and decolonize architecture, while advancing architectural education. She founded and directed the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg and was dean of the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at City College, New York.

In 2021, she founded the African Futures Institute (AFI) in Accra, aiming to give life to a new model of education, research, and public dialogue that unites the arts and sciences and “reimagines Africa as the crucible of the future.” Operating as a pan-African thinktank, the institute supports cutting-edge teaching and world-class research to address contemporary challenges related to race, environmental justice, and new forms of urbanism.

In 2023, Lokko was awarded an Order of the British Empire for services to architecture and education, and was appointed curator of the 18th Venice International Architecture Exhibition, which closed last November. Entitled The Laboratory of the Future, the edition placed Africa on centerstage, focusing on issues such as decarbonization and decolonization.

 

>>> Demas Nwoko wins the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the last Venice Biennale

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