Lesley Lokko

Lesley Lokko
The 29th Pietro Belluschi Lecture

ONLINE Webcast

In the hard-nosed realm of international politics, soft power is often referred to as the ability to co-opt rather than coerce, shaping preferences through appeal and attraction, not force. In 2010, the media company Monocle combined a range of statistical metrics to measure the soft power of 26 countries, using approximately 50 factors including the number of language schools, Olympic medals, the quality of architecture and business brands, the latter two encapsulated beautifully in the International Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia, indeed in all international exhibitions. The Laboratory of the Future tried to address hard-edged concerns such as decolonisation and decarbonisation within soft-power frameworks of narrative, aesthetics, and atmosphere, positioning imagination and creative enquiry as tools of liberation. To what extent is this a useful or effective strategy for confronting the extremes of social, racial, and environmental inequity that characterise our times? 

Professor Lesley Lokko OBE is the founder and director of the African Futures Institute (AFI) in Accra, Ghana. She holds a BSc(Arch), MArch and PhD in Architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. She was the founder and director of the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg (2014—2019) and the Dean of Architecture at the Bernard & Anne Spitzer School of Architecture (2019—2020). She is the editor of White Papers, Black Marks: Race, Culture, Architecture (University of Minnesota Press, 2000) and the editor-in-chief of FOLIO: Journal of Contemporary African Architecture.

She is currently a Visiting Professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College Dublin and has held visiting professorships at The Cooper Union, NYC and University of Virginia. She was appointed Curator of the 18th International Architecture Biennale at La Biennale di Venezia, which opened on 20 May 2023. In January 2023, she was awarded an OBE ‘for services to architecture and education’ in King Charles’ New Year’s Honours List. In the same month, she was awarded the UK’s highest architecture award, the RIBA Royal Gold Medal. 

This lecture will be held in person in Huntington Hall (10-250) and streamed online.

Lectures are free and open to the public. Lectures will be held Thursdays at 6 PM ET in 7-429 (Long Lounge) and streamed online unless otherwise noted. Registration required to attend in-person. Register here or watch the webcast on Youtube.