Dezeen Magazine

"It's worth it to think differently" says Royal Gold Medal-winner Lesley Lokko

In this video produced by the Royal British Institute of Architects, Ghanaian-Scottish architect and educator Lesley Lokko reflects on her career and Royal Gold Medal win, which was announced today.

"There's been a lot of talk about how what I do isn't architecture," reflected Lokko.

"It was always very clear to me that there was a difference between the profession of architecture and the discipline of architecture. I think in the last 10 years, we're beginning to see those two things come slightly closer together," she continued.

"I very much hope that this medal demonstrates that it's worth it to think differently. It's worth it to go off-piste or to go off the beaten track."

Portrait of Lesley Lokko
Lesley Lokko has won the 2024 RIBA Royal Gold Medal. Photo by Festus Jackson-Davis

Lokko is the first African woman to receive the prestigious Royal Gold Medal from the Royal British Institute of Architects (RIBA) since it was established in 1848.

She is also the third woman to win it in her own right – rather than as part of a team – following in the footsteps of architects Zaha Hadid and Yasmeen Lari.

In the RIBA film, the organisation's president Muyiwa Oki said Lokko was selected as the 2024 recipient for her "groundbreaking work as an educator, curator and as an author".

He is among several interviewees who also feature in the video, with others including architect Lanre Gbolade, Lokko's Royal Gold Medal nominator.

"In professor Lokko, with her progressive teaching methods to both present and future practitioners, as well as transformative and influential leadership capabilities spanning well over 30 years and counting, we truly do have a once-in-a-generation agent of change," said Gbolade.

Lokko is best known as the founder of the African Futures Institute (AFI), a school of architecture in Accra, and for her written work including the White Papers Black Marks essays.

More recently, she was the curator of the 18th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, which explored decarbonisation and decolonisation through the lens of Africa.

She will be formally presented with the 2024 Royal Gold Medal on 2 May 2024.

The video is courtesy of RIBA.