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Celebrating Black History Month: a reading list

In celebration of Black History Month, RIBA Library colleague Irene Machariah has picked out her selection of publications from RIBA’s wide range of library resources, highlighting the contributions, achievements and work of Black professionals in the built environment, both in the UK and internationally. All the books and journals are available to browse and read for free through the RIBA Library.

Irene said “Encouraged by the appointment of Muyiwa Oki - RIBA’s youngest and first Black President Elect, and his aim to deliver equity, transparency and innovation to the sector, I focused my selection on celebrating some of the Black professionals that have inspired me with their work - in architecture, photography, academia and inclusion - and some of the information you can find about them in our library. This is a very short list of articles and images I have recently enjoyed - there is much more in our Library to explore.”

Architects and Designers

Sir David Adjaye OBE

Sir David Adjaye is a globally-recognised name in architecture. He has won numerous awards including the 2020 Royal Gold Medal. When it was presented to him, he was celebrated by an incredible rollcall of global figures – including Barack Obama. You can find images of some of his work on RIBApix.

Sir David Adjaye photographed by Francis Kokoroko

Lots has been written about Sir David Adjaye, but here are some of my top picks:

  • Peter Allison, ‘Adjaye - Works 1995-2007: Houses, Pavilions, Installations, Buildings’ (Thames & Hudson, 2020)
  • ‘David Adjaye: why I had to chart a different path to success’: Eleanor Young interviews Royal Gold Medal recipient, Sir David Adjaye (RIBA Journal vol. 127, no. 11, 2020 Nov., p. 70-74)
  • ‘Gold for Adjaye’: Will Ing interview with Sir David Adjaye about his work, his ambitions and how the profession has yet to combat systemic racism. Includes a timeline of Adjaye's career so far (Architects’ Journal - vol. 247, no. 14, 2020 Oct. 15, p. 8-10)
  • ‘Truth Be Told’: Jillian Caddell article on the new National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC, designed by Adjaye Associates and Freelon Group with Davis Brody Bond and Smith Group (Apollo vol. 185, no. 650, 2017 Feb., p. 26-37)

Stephen Lawrence Centre, London, designed by Adjaye Associates (Daniel Hewitt / RIBA Collections)

Mariam Kamara

Mariam Kamara is a Nigerian architect whose practice, Atelier Masomi, is based in Niger. She was selected by David Adjaye as his protégé on the Rolex mentoring programme.

  • Interview: Mariam Kamara (RIBA Journal - vol. 125, no. 3, 2018 Mar., p. 39)
  • David Adjaye's protégé Mariam Kamara designs cultural center’: Article by Miriam Sitz on the Niamey Cultural Center, to be designed by Mariam Kamara, who developed the idea while participating in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative (Architectural Record - vol. 208, no. 1, 2020 Jan., p. 26)

Diébédo Francis Kéré

Burkinabé architect Diébédo Francis Kéré recently scooped the 2022 Pritzker Prize. He was the first African and the first Black architect to win this prestigious award. You can find pictures of Kéré and his 2017 Serpentine Pavilion on RIBApix.

  • Francis Kéré and Iwan Baan, ‘Momentum of Light’ Photographer Iwan Baan and architect Francis Kéré set out to capture how the sun's natural cycle shapes vernacular architecture with few or no artificial light sources in Burkina Faso (Lars Müller Publishers, 2021)
  • Melissa Blanchflower with Joseph Constable, ed., ‘Francis Kéré: Serpentine Pavillion 2017 (Serpentine Gallery, 2017)
  • ‘Francis Kéré wins the Pritzker Prize’: includes a photograph of Kéré's Gando Primary School, Burkina Faso (Architects’ Journal - vol. 249, no. 3, 2022 Mar. 24, p. 4-7)
  • Special issue of Francis Kére’s work (AV Monografias no. 201, 2018, p. 2-118)

Serpentine Pavilion 2017, London, designed by Francis Kéré (Joanne Underhill / RIBA Collections)

Yemí Àlàdérun

Yemí Àlàdérun is co-founder of Paradigm Network, a UK-based professional network for architects passionate about increasing Black and Asian representation within the industry, and is a committee member of Part W, an action group campaigning for gender parity.

  • ‘AJ 40 under 40: Yẹmí Àlàdérun’ Fran William profiles Yẹmí Àlàdérun for the AJ’s 2020 ’40 under 40’ feature (Architects’ Journal vol. 247, no. 16, 2020 Dec. 17, p 30-31)

Yinka Ilori

Yinka Ilori is an artist and designer who draws on his British-Nigerian heritage to convey new narratives through contemporary design.

  • ‘The Road to Happy Street’: Interview by Priya Khanchandani with Yinka Ilori as his work bursts onto the London landscape (Icon - no. 196, 2019 Oct., p. 48-55)

Lesley Lokko

Lokko is an architect, academic and novelist – and will be the first Black curator of Venice Architecture Biennale (2023)

  • ‘Culture Revolutionary’: Article by Eleanor Young on the occasion of Lokko winning the 2020 RIBA Annie Spink Award for Excellence in Education (RIBA Journal - vol. 128, no. 1, 2021 Jan., p. 38-40)
  • ‘Bringing it all back home’: Interview by Catherine Slessor with Lesley Lokko, recipient of the 2020 Annie Spink Award and the 2021 Ada Louise Huxtable Prize (Architects’ Journal -vol. 248, no. 2, 2021 Feb. 25, p. 16-18)


  • Feature on architectural and construction photographer Gerald McLean, plus examples of his work, on RIBA pix.
  • Architectural photographer Timothy Soar sets out to capture the diversity, preoccupations and ambitions of architects across the UK. A new portrait by Soar is published every week on Architecture Today.

Further Reading

  • Irene Cheng, Charles L. Davies II, Mabel O. Wilson, ed.,Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present’ (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020)
  • Carla Jackson Bell, ‘Space Unveiled: invisible cultures in the design studio’ (Routledge, 2015)
  • Darell Wayne Fields, ‘Architecture in Black : theory, space and appearance’ (Bloomsbury 2016)

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