Muyiwa Oki, an architect at London-headquartered construction consultancy Mace Group, has emerged victorious in a closely watched election cycle for the next president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Muyiwa, who will become RIBA President-Elect beginning September 1 of this year before assuming the presidency September 1, 2023, will be the first Black president of the 188-year-old institution. At 31 years old, he is also the youngest person to be elected to serve in the role. He replaces Simon Allford, whose two-year term concludes next year.
Allford applauded Oki for running a “a commendable campaign with an electoral manifesto focused on the future of the profession.”
Joining Oki, a grassroots candidate who pledged to serve as a voice for fellow architectural workers and enjoyed considerable momentum going into the election cycle, were two other challengers vying for the presidency: Jo Bacon of Allies and Morrison and Ecologic Architects’ Sumita Singha, who also ran in the (notably large) five-person race for 2021–2023 RIBA President and was ultimately defeated by Allford. In the 2023—2025 race, Singha was eliminated after the first round of voting by RIBA members; Bacon and Oki advanced to the final round with the latter securing 49.3 percent of the vote compared to the former’s 45.4 percent.
Total voter turnout for this cycle was just 12.4 percent (6,020 votes) compared to 13.2 percent for the previous election.
Oki remarked of his historic win:
“I am grateful to the grassroots movement whose support and passion offered a platform to represent architectural workers. Most of all a special thanks to those members and nominators, that responded to this movement, tuned in, and voted – especially those that did so for the first time.
We can be proud of an election where people of colour, at different stages of their careers, of all identities, can be heard and seen bidding to represent the profession. I hope this is the start of many great things to come for those who feel disenfranchised and under-represented.
I am proud of my campaign, the discourse has been positive, energetic, and inspirational. It has been a privilege to run alongside Jo and Sumita and as RIBA council and Board members, I am looking forward to working with you both to deliver equity, transparency, and innovation in architecture.”
Prior to joining Mace Group, Oki was with Grimshaw Architects, where he worked on large-scale infrastructural projects and served as founder and chair of the firm’s Multi-Ethnic Group and Allies (MEGA) program. An active mentor for aspiring architects and frequent public speaker, Oki is also an ambassador for the Mayor of London: Design Future London challenge.
In addition to electing a new president, RIBA members also voted to fill numerous council seats.
As Oki transitions into the role of president-elect next month, AN will follow up this news article with a closer look at the significance of his forthcoming presidency and its potential impact on the architecture profession, particularly with regard to young and historically underrepresented architects, in the United Kingdom.