Lesley Lokko is an architect, academic, and best-selling novelist. She is currently Dean of the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at The City College of New York, in Manhattan, previously being at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, which she established in 2015 at the South African institution.
Born in Scotland, Lesley grew up in Ghana where she began her architectural practice. She received her first architecture degree at London’s Bartlett School of Architecture and earned her doctorate in architecture from the University of London in 2007.
Whilst still a student, Lesley began an edited anthology that has come to define my interests across both her academic career and her fiction writing: ‘race’ and its relationship to the built environment, although that initial interest has expanded considerably to encompass a broader interest in identity politics, culture and urbanism. White Papers, Black Marks: Race, Space & Architecture was published in 2000, some six years after its inception. It remains one of the few anthologies dedicated specifically to the study of ‘race’ as a meaningful category of enquiry within architectural canon.
For thirteen years, Lesley wrote fiction full-time, publishing eleven best-selling novels but continued to keep a peripheral interest and foot in architectural discourse. Later, she joined the board of examiners in the new Master’s programme at the University of Johannesburg, before becoming an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at UJ. In 2015, exactly a year after joining the Department of Architecture, Lesley successfully petitioned the University to establish Africa’s only dedicated post-graduate school of architecture and the GSA (Graduate School of Architecture) was founded.