Lesley Lokko announced as curator of 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale

Academic, educator and novelist Lesley Lokko will be the director of the architecture sector for the 18th International Architecture Exhibition

Photo of Lesley Lokko in front of a building
Lesley Lokko
(Image credit: © Murdo Macleod)

La Biennale di Venezia, led by president Roberto Cicutto, has announced Lesley Lokko as director of the architecture sector for 2023’s 18th International Architecture Exhibition – the famous Venice Architecture Biennale. 

Academic, educator and novelist Lokko brings her extensive experience to the role, drawing on the postgraduate school of architecture and public events platform, African Futures Institute in Accra, Ghana, which she founded in 2020. She is also director and founder of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg.

‘The 17th International Architecture Exhibition confirmed, perhaps definitively, the need to represent a discipline so closely intertwined with the needs of humanity and the planet in general,’ says Cicutto.

‘The curators of the Biennale’s International Exhibitions have always tried, through the vision of the participants they invite, to afford us as comprehensive an overview as possible of the themes and projects which are suitable for dealing with future scenarios. The appointment of Lesley Lokko as curator of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition is a way of welcoming the gaze of an international personality who is able to interpret, through different roles, her own position in the contemporary debate on architecture and cities, which takes as its starting point her own experience immersed in a continent that is increasingly becoming a laboratory of experimentation and proposals for the whole contemporary world. I believe that this immersion in reality is the best way to dialogue with the questions raised by the 2021 Exhibition curated by Hashim Sarkis.’

Lesley Lokko on her new role

Lokko, who in the past has picked up awards for her work – including the RIBA Annie Spink Award for Excellence in Education 2020 and the AR Ada Louise Huxtable Prize for Contributions to Architecture 2021 – brings an impressive breadth of knowledge to the role.

‘A new world order is emerging, with new centres of knowledge production and control,’ she says. ‘New audiences are also emerging, hungry for different narratives, different tools and different languages of space, form, and place. After two of the most difficult and divisive years in living memory, architects have a unique opportunity to show the world what we do best: put forward ambitious and creative ideas that help us imagine a more equitable and optimistic future in common. Speaking to you from the world’s youngest continent, I would like to thank President Cicutto and the entire team of La Biennale di Venezia for this bold, brave choice.’



Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.