• FOLIO: Journal of Contemporary African Architecture, Volume 3: 19.8
    Lesley Lokko
    African Futures Institute, 2023
    African Futures Institute

Makola Market, 2022, Accra. Photo: Festus Jackson-Davis

Africa has the world’s youngest population. The median age across the continent is 19.8, almost half that of Europe and the United States. All the world’s top ten youngest countries are in Africa and the number of young people, defined as those between 15—24, is set to increase by 42% by 2030, a decade away. This third volume of FOLIO publishes contributions that examine the past, present, and future impacts that this “youthful” statistic has on the built environment, both “at home” on the African continent, and more broadly in the African Diaspora. What are the architectural imaginaries of Africa’s youth? What new tools, structures, performance criteria are being developed by or for African youth to drive change within the built environment? How are these addressing the tension between tradition and contemporary culture? What geographical alliances and networks are driving forward engagement of African youth in the built environment? What role has social media played in the construction and circulation of African architectural aspirations, and how effective has it been in translation to realized projects? What impact has global youth culture had on Africa and its diaspora, and vice versa? What is the relationship between old and new? Do innovation and youth go hand-in-hand? What is the relationship between youth and urbanization?

Lesley Lokko is the founder and director of the African Futures Institute (AFI) in Accra, Ghana, an independent postgraduate school of architecture and public events platform. She is also the editor in chief of FOLIO: Journal of Contemporary African Architecture, published by the AFI. She was the founder and director of the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg (2014–19) and the dean of architecture at the Bernard & Anne Spitzer School of Architecture (2019–20), City College of New York. She is the editor of White Papers, Black Marks: Race, Culture, Architecture (University of Minnesota Press, 2000). In 2004, she made the successful transition from academic to novelist with the publication of her first novel, Sundowners (Orion, 2004) and has since followed with twelve further bestsellers, which have been translated into fifteen languages. She is currently a founding member of the Council on Urban Initiatives, cofounded by LSE Cities, UN Habitat, and University College London Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose; and a visiting professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. She is a trustee of London-based The Architecture Foundation and has held visiting professorships at the University of Westminster, University of Cape Town, The Cooper Union, and the University of Virginia. In December 2021, she was appointed curator of Biennale Architettura 2023 of La Biennale di Venezia.

The African Futures Institute’s (AFI) mission is to transform Africa’s built environments by educating a new generation of African architects, urban designers and policy makers to lead the global conversation around social and environmental equity. It aims to transform global architectural education by placing climate change, diversity and access at the centre of architectural pedagogy, not at its margins. By making space for the rich history of the Black Atlantic, the AFI’s scholarship will add to our understanding of spatial and urban histories in both the global North and the South.