Lesley Lokko and Marina Tabassum named world's most influential architects

Architects Lesley Lokko and Marina Tabassum have been named on the list of the 100 most influential people of 2024 by Time magazine.

The architects are included alongside world leaders, artists and sports stars in the annually published list of people the US magazine judges as the world’s most influential.

Called a “force of nature” in her citation, Lokko is listed in the pioneers section of the list, while Tabassum, who is described as an architect who “cares for her creations”, is included in the innovators section.

“Her extraordinary trajectory eviscerates the old world”

Ghanaian-Scottish architect Lokko curated last year’s Venice Architecture Biennale and recently won the RIBA Royal Gold Medal. American filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who wrote her citation, said she was “dazzled by her brilliance and focus” when she met the architect.

In DuVernay’s citation, she drew attention to the impact that Lokko was having on the architecture world.

“Her extraordinary trajectory eviscerates the old world that had maintained a dominant perspective in architecture – one that she calls ‘a singular, exclusive voice, whose reach and power ignores huge swathes of humanity… as though we have been listening and speaking in one tongue only’,” wrote DuVernay.

“Now, we hear hers. Lesley creates new landscapes to reimagine access and impact and vision and vibrant futures,” she continued. “Her presence in the world of architecture is the very foundation upon which fresh perspectives and passions will flourish. She is indeed a force of nature. A force for change. A force for good.”

Tabassum “prioritizes local cultures and values”

Bangladeshi architect Tabassum, who recently won the Soane Medal for architecture, was praised for her altruistic attitude to her work.

“Altruism isn’t typically a term attributed to award-winning architects – a profession where signature has become a common adjective – but Marina Tabassum isn’t typical,” wrote Harvard Graduate School of Design dean Sarah Whiting in her citation.

“She has developed a practice and a way of being that prioritizes local cultures and values, as well as the perils faced by our shared planet.”

She drew attention to her Bait Ur Rouf Mosque in Dhaka, which was one of the winners of the Aga Khan Award, as well as her work developing moveable prefabricated houses.

“She has developed houses that are cost-effective and easy to move – clearly, buildings shouldn’t just breathe; they should avoid getting their feet wet,” wrote Whiting. “While she practices very locally, she teaches, lectures, and is recognized internationally, modeling architecture not as an individual signature but as a collective Esperanto.”

Lokko and Tabassum are the latest architects to be named on the Time 100 list, following Japanese architect Kengo Kuma in 2021, Jeanne Gang in 2019, Elizabeth Diller in 2018 and David Adjaye in 2017.

Last year the magazine named Burkinabè architect Diébédo Francis Kéré on its list of 100 most influential climate leaders.

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