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Youngest-ever and first Black President takes reins of RIBA

Posted: 6th September 2023

Muyiwa Oki, the new President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), has used his first day in office (1 September) to say that architecture “must go further and faster on innovation and change, considering the scale and complexity of the challenges in society.”

Oki, the youngest-ever (32) and first Black president in the institute’s 189-year history, said “a fundamental shift” is needed for the architectural profession to “demonstrate its relevance and importance in today’s world and inspire the next generation of architects.”

Oki pledged to lead a concerted focus on sustainability and climate action, address a lack of inclusion in the profession, and champion the adoption of innovative methods and technologies.

Oki said he would advocate for decarbonising the built environment, promoting sustainable design and construction practices, including retrofit – the upgrading of existing buildings to increase their longevity and energy efficiency. He called on policymakers to pursue effective climate action, including delivery of “a robust strategy for minimising the carbon impact from buildings”.

While in office, Oki also promised to focus on measures to make architecture “fairer, more welcoming and inclusive.”

Speaking today, RIBA President Muyiwa Oki said:

“I am conscious that this is a critical time to take on the role of RIBA President, as we grapple with huge, global challenges: the rising cost of living, widening social inequality and, of course, the climate emergency. As architects, we are stewards of our planet's future and I believe it is vital that every architect sees themselves as an agent of change. An immense collective effort is needed.

However, to reach its full potential, the profession needs to change. A more diverse and inclusive industry is essential to delivering architecture that is responsive to the needs of everyone in society. I will champion measures to make architecture fairer, more welcoming and inclusive. We will only attract the diverse expertise we need if young people understand they can make a meaningful difference through a career in architecture. We must ensure that anyone with talent can aspire to join us and succeed, regardless of who they are and where they come from. We must tear down the barriers wherever they exist.

Excellence in design remains at the heart of architecture, but skills such as leadership, collaboration, and the ability to harness new technologies, are equally important to the future resilience of the profession. We must learn to blend creativity and ingenuity with technology to create spaces that can withstand the test of time and positively impact the lives of people living today and in the future.”

Muyiwa Oki’s term as RIBA President is from 1 September 2023 to 31 August 2025. He takes over the role from Simon Allford (RIBA President), architect, co-founder and director of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM).