The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bartlett Alumna Lesley Lokko Named 2024 Recipient of RIBA Royal Gold Medal

19 January 2024

Congratulations to Professor Lesley Lokko OBE who will receive one of the highest global honours in architecture for her lifelong commitment to architectural advancement.

Image: Lesley Lokko seated on a sofa in front of a large portrait. Photo by Festus Jackson-Davis.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced Professor Lesley Lokko OBE as the 2024 recipient of the Royal Gold Medal for architecture, in recognition of her lifelong commitment to championing diversity in architectural practice and education. Lesley is the first African woman to have received the award since it was established in 1848. 

Lesley is an architect, educator and best-selling novelist. She is an alumna of The Bartlett having completed her Architecture BSc, Architecture MArch and PhD at the school. Most recently, she has been working with staff and students in the capacity of Visiting Professor.

In 2023, Lesley curated the 18th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. She also established the African Futures Institute (AFI) in 2020 in Accra, Ghana as a postgraduate school of architecture and public events platform. Prior to establishing AFI, Lesley founded the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg in 2015.

Commenting on the news about the award, Lesley said:

It came as such a surprise to me. 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.”

Amy Kulper, Director of The Bartlett School of Architecture, commented:

Professor Lesley Lokko is a trailblazer in the field of architecture, promoting the transformation of architectural pedagogy and practice through the complimentary lenses of decolonisation and decarbonisation. Her pioneering work in founding the African Futures Institute and being the first woman of African descent to curate the Venice Biennale places mobility and diasporic identity at the forefront of architectural discourse and design. The Royal Gold Medal for Architecture represents one of the highest honours an architect can receive, and her colleagues at The Bartlett School of Architecture and UCL have nothing but pride and admiration for her accomplishments."

Lesley will be formally presented with the award in London in May 2024.

More information

Image: Lesley Lokko by Festus Jackson-Davis