Mae-ling Lokko

Mae-ling Lokko, CASE Chale Wote Upcycling Pavilion, 2016. Image courtesy the artist

Mae-ling Lokko, CASE Chale Wote Upcycling Pavilion, 2016. Image courtesy the artist

Mae-ling Lokko (b. 1987, Taif, Saudi Arabia) lives between Accra, Ghana and New York, USA. Trained as an architectural historian and building-material technologist, Lokko is an Assistant Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York, USA. Her work centres on the upcycling of agro-waste and biopolymer materials into 'high' performance building material systems. Inspired by emerging multidisciplinary research on next generation biocomposite green materials as well as Ghanaian contemporary art waste upcycling, Lokko often integrates into her architectural work a broad range of technical, environmental, political and cultural criteria that questions contemporary material-value systems and evolves material upcycling criteria.

Liverpool Biennial and RIBA North have commissioned Mae-ling Lokko to develop a new large-scale installation called Hack the Root. It will be situated in the public foyer area outside of RIBA North, adjacent to the Liverpool Waterfront, with an accompanying exhibition in the gallery. Hack the Root subverts the notion of the ‘root’. A singular form that displaces all around it, drawing on its surrounding resources and consumed by its self-interest in growing and expansion, it serves as a powerful metaphor for the historical and contemporary forms of globalisation that Liverpool has experienced through the transatlantic slave trade and the modern shipping industry. An alternative notion of ‘rootedness’ is explored in rhizome structures that flourish through a network that seeks and encourages relationships. Drawing on these complex themes, the new commission will take the form of an architectural structure that hacks the shipping container form using modular biomaterial panels. The 20-foot structure will be ‘grown’ in a series of public Grow-It-Yourself workshops using an agrowaste-fed fungus developed by Ecovative. The live growth of the panels, evoking rhizomatic methods of production, will be viewable at RIBA North.

Recent exhibitions include ANO Institute of Contemporary Arts, Accra, Ghana (2017); Mmofra Foundation Climate Change Exhibition, Accra, Ghana (2017); Chale Wote Festival Accra, Ghana (2016); Rotch Golden Cube, Troy, USA (2016); and Advanced Energy Conference, New York, USA (2016).


RIBA North – National Architecture Centre
21 Mann Island
L3 1BP