The 2024 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture has been announced, celebrating Professor Lesley Lokko as its recipient. The accolade, which is awarded annually by the RIBA to recognise exceptional contributions to the built environment field, will be presented this year to Lokko for her work to ‘democratise architecture’, hailed by the 2024 RIBA Honours Committee as a ‘clarion call for equitable representation in policies, planning, and design that shape our spaces’.
Lesley Lokko: 2024 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture winner
Lokko has had a busy few years, full of fruitful activity in all her fields of interest. The Ghanaian-Scottish architect, educator, author and curator successfully delivered the highly acclaimed 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale, and her main show, themed Laboratory of the Future; she also worked on launching the Africa Futures Institute, a new architecture research institute and school, which is currently being set up from scratch.
She has also been working on fiction writing and academic work in parallel. Her numerous existing achievements and recognitions include an OBE (awarded in 2023), and the RIBA Annie Spink Award for Excellence in Architectural Education (2020).
‘Not only is Lokko the first African woman to receive this honour, but she also now takes her place among architecture’s defining figures,’ states the 2024 Royal Gold Medal selection committee, which was chaired by RIBA president Muyiwa Oki and comprised of 2023 Royal Gold Medal recipient Yasmeen Lari; architect and senior partner at RSHP Ivan Harbour; head of school and chief executive at the London School of Architecture Neal Shasore; and architect and partner at Walters & Cohen, Cindy Walters.
On hearing the news, Lokko said: ‘It came as such a surprise to me. This was never on the cards. 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 organisations 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 – visual, written, built, performed – and that language, in turn, has given me such hope.’
RIBA president Muyiwa Oki said: ‘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 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.’
The 2024 Royal Gold Medal will be formally presented to Lesley Lokko in London on 2 May 2024.