Diversity and Inclusion

The Architecture Foundation is committed to engaging diverse contributors across its programme and to cultivating a diverse audience

Diversity and Inclusion Policy

The Architecture Foundation’s central mission is to expand the range of voices participating in the conversation about London’s future development.  To that end, we actively seek to platform speakers of diverse gender, ethnicity, age and professional expertise and strive to deliver a programme that engages both a wide section of the built environment community and the broader public.  We are particularly concerned to find space in the programme for the following under-supported constituencies:

- Young architects and writers

- Female architects and writers

- BAME architects and writers

Our specific policy commitments in relation to these issues are as follows:

1. The delivery of a programme in venues of differing capacity and format, with the aim of accommodating speakers of significantly varied public profile and expertise.

2. Maintaining a range of ticket prices for paid events, alongside the delivery of elements of freely accessible programming, with the aim of engaging the widest possible audience.

3. Paying speakers where viable with the aim of ensuring that financial considerations, particularly the costs of childcare, are not a barrier to participation.

4. The maintenance of a mix of gender representation in any panel discussion.

5. Inviting speakers of diverse gender, ethnicity and professional expertise to contribute to the lecture programme.

6. The delivery of a programme of activities directly targeted at expanding BAME participation in the architectural discourse.

7. The delivery of a programme of activities directly targeted at expanding opportunities for young architects

8. The publication of an annual report identifying progress in relation to the above policy objectives and identifying initiatives which will address diversity and inclusion issues in the year ahead.


Diversity and inclusion report for 2019

1. New Architecture Writers

This programme continued into its second year, supporting a cohort of nine new students.  The Architecture Foundation also supported the efforts of the first cohort in the production and distribution of their self-published zine, Afterparti.  A grant application was submitted to the Graham Foundation to support the production of a conference and publication dealing with issues of inclusivity in architecture.  It is intended that this be staged in 2020.

2. Architecture on Stage

The developing success of the Architecture on Stage talks programme enabled both the number and capacity of the events to increase.  In turn this presented an opportunity to diversify their formats and through doing so to accommodate speakers of a wider range of professional expertise and public profile and to attract a more varied audience.  Two evenings devoted to the work of eight emerging practices and an ambitious multi-speaker event addressing the climate crisis were representative of this change.  The 29 talks provided a platform for 14 practices that are led in whole or part by female directors and  the sell-out event Breaking Ground: Architecture by Women provided a specific platform for a discussion about questions of gender parity in the profession. The programme also continued to provide space for speakers from a range of ethnic backgrounds including Eyal Weizman, Thomas Padmanabhan, Anupama Kundoo, Adrian Lahoud and Chris Lee.  It is intended that the programme will further diversify in format in the coming year, including an evening curated by the Afterparti collective in January 2020.

3.  Beacon Festival

The Architecture Foundation co-curated a series of public events staged in August and September at the 2019 Antepavilion, Potemkin Theatre.  Supported by an Arts Council grant, the festival included presentations from emerging architects and a reading of Canadian playwright Oren Safdie’s play, Color Blind, which focuses on the part played by questions of ethnicity in the assessment of a fictional architectural competition.

4.  Architecture Foundation Young Trustees

In October, six Young Trustees were appointed of whom three are from BAME backgrounds.  The Young Trustees continue to programem the free Part Four series, which provides professional advice to emerging practices.


Diversity and inclusion report for 2018

Key initiatives

1. New Architecture Writers

Following an open call issued at the end of 2017, nine aspiring critics from BAME backgrounds were recruited to the inaugural New Architecture Writers course.  This year-long programme of evening tutorials was delivered for free, with the support of a number of London’s leading architecture critics and curators. In June, the collective of New Architecture Writers curated The Time For Failure is Now, a live public event involving on-stage interviews with a panel of exclusively BAME participants including Indy Johar, Danna Walker and Danah Abdullah.   At the end of 2018 a second cohort of New Architecture Writers was recruited.

2. Celebrating Architecture and Architecture for All

Over the course of two days in July 2018, the Architecture Foundation facilitated the delivery of workshops for 40 children from south London primary and secondary schools.  Conducted at the Royal College of Art, the workshops were led by Neil Pinder, an innovative black year 9 teacher from south London and Venetia Wolfenden of Urban Learners. The workshops were aimed at introducing school-age children from non-privileged socio-economic backgrounds to architecture and involved them in a study of the 2018 Serpentine Pavilion. In parallel, the Architecture Foundation produced the free-to-view film, Architecture for All in collaboration with the Royal College of Art, Celebrating Architecture, Urban Learners and the Mayor of London.  The ten-minute documentary features interviews with Neil Pinder, his students, alumni and experts in education and architecture and addresses issues surrounding access to the British creative sector. Published in July 2018, Architecture for All was watched by 1900 people in the first year of its release.

3. Architecture on Stage

Over the course of the year, the Architecture Foundation staged twenty lectures in partnership with the Barbican Centre.  Of these, eight were given by architectural practices led in whole or part by female directors, while the annual John Edwards Lecture took the form of a conversation involving the Moroccan artist Yto Barrada.  Drawing audiences in excess of 1000, the lectures by O’Donnell and Tuomey and de Vylder Vinck Taillieu were the best attended talks involving female speakers that the programme has so far presented. Participants were invited from eleven different countries and included three BAME speakers.  They ranged in age from their late thirties to early nineties.

4. Part Four

In July and November 2018, the Architecture Foundation’s young trustees programmed two free evenings in the ongoing Part Four series, which aims to provide professional advice to emerging practices.

5. Gender Equity in Cities

The Architecture Foundation facilitated the delivery of this conference organised in September 2018 by 3.09.  The Architecture Foundation secured the venue and provided technical and marketing support.