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Champion of equality & inclusion wins prestigious RIBA Gold Medal

Article-Champion of equality & inclusion wins prestigious RIBA Gold Medal

Lesley Lokko .png
Hailed as a luminary architect and renaissance figure whose architectural footprint spans continents and cultures, Lesley Lokko has been recognised for her ground-breaking efforts in the design space globally.

Lesley Lokko is best known for her work to democratise architecture and her passion for equitable representation in planning and design. It is perhaps for this reason that she won one of the most coveted architecture awards globally, the Royal Gold Meal 2024 by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in January, becoming the first African woman to do so. 

For over two decades, the acclaimed Scottish-Ghanaian professor and architect has dedicated her career to looking at the complex relationship between identity, race and architecture and its impact on spaces. She has been revered for her call for equal representation in policies, planning and design. 

In 2021, she founded the African Futures Institute with the aim for it to be a new model of education, research and humanities on the African continent. The institute focuses on cutting-edge technology and research looking at addressing challenges around race, environmental justice and new forms of urbanism. In addition to teaching reframed architecture courses around the world – including in Johannesburg, Accra and New York – Lokko was awarded an OBE in 2023 and was appointed the Curator of the 18th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, which placed Africa at its centre. 

“It came as such a surprise to me,” said Lokko on receiving the Royal Gold Medal. “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 – visual, written, built, performed – and that language, in turn, has given me such hope.”

RIBA President, Muyiwa Oki called her a visionary agent of change saying that she is a fierce champion of equity and inclusion in all aspects of life and her approach to architecture offers hope for the future. 

“Lesley has dedicated her life to championing these values, not only through academic endeavours, 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,” added Oki. 

The Royal Gold Medal 2024 will be formally presented to Lokko in May.

TAGS: architecture
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