a landmark Achievement for a Global Figure in Architecture


The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced Ghanaian-Scottish architect and educator Lesley Lokko as the 2024 recipient of its prestigious Royal Gold Medal, marking a groundbreaking moment as the first African woman to receive this esteemed award — and the third woman following Zaha Hadid and Yasmeen Lari. Lokko, known for her unwavering commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity in the field of architecture, was recognized by RIBA for ‘relentlessly pursuing inclusivity and equity in the field.’ Her impactful contributions span education, design, and cultural discourse, paving the way for a more representative and equitable architectural landscape.


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championing Inclusivity and Equity in the industry


The most notable venture of 2024 RIBA award winner Lesley Lokko is the African Futures Institute (AFI), an independent school of architecture in Accra, Ghana. Established with the vision of ‘Africa as the crucible of the future,’ AFI seeks to reimagine architectural education through an Afrocentric lens and empower a new generation of architects from the Global South. She further made history as the first person of African descent to curate the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale, titled ‘The Laboratory of the Future.’ This visionary exhibition explored themes of decarbonization and decolonization through the unique perspective of Africa, offering a critical discourse on the future of architecture.


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Lokko’s impressive credentials extend beyond AFI and the Biennale. Holding a PhD in Architecture from the University of London, she is also a prolific author of both academic and fictional works, including thirteen novels, most notably ‘Sundowners.’ Her dedication to education is evident in her extensive teaching experience. She founded the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg and served as the dean of The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at The City College of New York, inspiring countless students with her forward-thinking approach toward inclusive architecture.