Muyiwa Oki has been elected as the next President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Muyiwa will become RIBA President-Elect from 1 September 2022 and take over the two-year presidential term from Simon Allford on 1 September 2023.
The role of the RIBA President was established in 1835. Presidents are directly elected by the RIBA membership to chair RIBA Council, the representative body, and to sit on the RIBA Board of Trustees.
Muyiwa Oki is an architect at construction consultancy, Mace Group. Throughout his career, he has worked on large-scale infrastructure projects, such as HS2 Euston and the North London heat and power project. Whilst at Grimshaw Architects, he was the founder and Chair of the Multi-Ethnic Group and Allies network and drove cultural change for colleagues globally. Muyiwa is an external speaker and mentor for aspiring architects in programmes to encourage greater social mobility within the industry.
Muyiwa Oki stood for election as RIBA President, alongside Jo Bacon and Sumita Singha.
Speaking today, Muyiwa Oki, said: “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.”
RIBA President (2021-23), Simon Allford, said: “Congratulations to Muyiwa who led a commendable campaign with an electoral manifesto focused on the future of the profession. This is an exciting time for RIBA as we shape a leaner, more agile organisation to support our global membership and engage all those with an interest in architecture. I look forward to working closely with Muyiwa as President-Elect before I hand over to him in September 2023.”
Oki, who was supported by a grassroots movement seeking an early-career architect for the role, overcame opposition from Ecologic Studio’s Sumita Singha and Allies and Morrison’s Jo Bacon, to become RIBA’s youngest and first Black president.
Of the 6,020 first preference votes by RIBA members, Oki received 2,456, representing 40%. Bacon received 2,317 (38%), while Singha received 1,247 (20%). When Singha’s votes were excluded and redistributed in the second count, Oki finished with 2,967 (49%) to Bacon’s 2,733 (45%), deeming him elected.
Turnout for the election was 12.4% despite calls by the current RIBA President for greater participation. By comparison, the previous presidential election attracted a turnout of 13.2%, which UK outlet Building Design noted was the lowest turnout for more than a quarter of a century.
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Oki will take up the office as President-Elect from September 1, 2022, for one year before serving as RIBA President for a two-year term at the beginning of September 2023, succeeding current RIBA President Simon Allford.
Oki was nominated as a candidate by a grassroots collective including the Future Architects Front, who sought to elect a “drama-free RIBA president who enacts positive, ethical and progressive change” and who would address pressing issues including climate change and labor conditions.
A qualified architect at global construction company Mace, Oki’s status as an early-career architect is a new look for the RIBA President role, often dominated by senior or late-stage architects and academics.
Archinect Q+A: Where the RIBA presidential candidates stand on key issues
In a Q+A with the candidates last month, Oki set out his ambitions to tackle key issues in the profession. On mental health in architecture schools, he spoke out against the culture of all-nighters, saying RIBA can partner with mental health institutions to provide support to members. To address wider concerns on the professional culture in architecture, Oki has also pledged to mandate overtime pay for RIBA chartered practices and create a toolkit to facilitate practices to transition into employee ownership.
On unionization, Oki noted that an architectural union movement “may be inevitable” and said that unionizing workers “should have the ability to stand together to lift industry standards.” Other ambitions of his are to support innovative start-up businesses, create the role of Director of Climate at RIBA to lead sustainability initiatives, and strengthen RIBA initiatives to grow diversity in the profession.
Oki’s victory comes despite prior concerns among his supporters that his campaign would be impacted by a change in RIBA election rules introducing a cut-off date for eligibility, which came into effect two weeks before he was chosen as a candidate. (source: architect).
Courtesy: myengineers.com & cic.org.uk