Lesley Lokko has been appointed curator of the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale . A Scottish-Ghanaian architect, she is known for her teaching, community involvement and novel writing. She herself describes the decision of La Biennale di Venezia's board as bold and courageous.
Lokko runs the African Futures Instutute, a postgraduate school of architecture founded in Accra, Ghana, in 2020, which also runs an open events program. In 2015, she founded the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, the first such postgraduate school of architecture in Africa. She has developed her teaching career in the UK, the US, Europe, Australia and Africa, teaching at the Bartlett School of Architecture, the University of Illinois at Chicago in the US and the University of Johannesburg, among others.
awarded for education
Her 25 years of teaching experience gives her an image as one of the most progressive voices in architectural education internationally. Lesley Lokko's contributions to architectural education have received numerous awards. In 2020, she received the Spink Award for Excellence in Education from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). A year later, she received the AR Ada Louise Huxtable Prize for Contributions to Architecture 2021.
a failed attempt at change
In 2019, she took over as dean at The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, where her appointment was welcomed as an injection of new energy and vision for the school. Less than a year after she started, however, Lokko resigned from the position, arguing that she was overloaded with work and lacked respect and empathy for black women. According to a report by Black in Architecture (Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture), among deans of architecture departments, only 4% are black or African-American, while making up only 5% of the total full-time faculty.
back to the youngest continent
photo by Fred Swart/ AFI
After resigning from her post in the United States, Lokko founded the African Futures Institute in 2020, based in the city where she spent her childhood - Accra, Ghana. The institute aims to develop a radically different and innovative educational program for Ghanaian, African and international students, as well as provide an important platform for talks, exhibitions and publications on architecture and related disciplines. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of FOLIO: Journal of Contemporary African Architecture.
not just architecture
photo: World Book World
In 2004 she began her career as a writer. At the time, she published her first novel, titled Sundowners. Her thirteenth novel, The Lonely Hour," is scheduled to be published in 2023. For the past thirty years, her works, both architectural and literary, have dealt with the relationship between race, culture and space.
A new world order is emerging , with new centers of production and control of knowledge. New audiences are also emerging, hungry for other narratives, tools and languages of space, form and place. After two of the most difficult and disparity-ridden years we can remember, architects have a unique opportunity to show the world what they do best: present ambitious and creative ideas that will help us imagine a more equitable and optimistic future. Speaking to you from the world's youngest continent, I would like to thank President Cicutto and the entire La Biennale di Venezia team for this bold, bold choice.
The 18th Venice International Architecture Exhibition will take place from May 20 to November 26, 2023. Press days are tentatively scheduled for May 18-19, 2023.