N.A.W. Takeover: Depends on Your Perspective

A season of panel discussions, workshops & live interviews throughout October 2020 curated by members of the BAME design criticism programme, N.A.W.

We are living in a turbulent time in history. In a letter to a young architect published in The Architectural Review, American architecture critic Kate Wagner writes:

There has never been a time in the history of the built environment where the urgency and spirit of activism and criticism are so desperately needed.

So what role does architectural criticism play?

The second cohort of the New Architecture Writers present a month-long digital takeover from 01 - 30 October 2020 of exploring the changing nature of architectural criticism. Each week, we will release the week's programme, made up of online panel discussions, workshops & live interviews. The cohort will be joined by those who have continually challenged the canon in academia, the arts, design and criticism, including Lesley Lokko, Akil Scafe-Smith, Owen Hatherly and more. Sign up to the newsletter for weekly handouts to pair with the lectures.


Thursday 01 October 2020, 7pm - 8pm \ via Zoom

Ibrahim Mahama / artist based in Tamale, Ghana

Akil Scafe-Smith/ designer and researcher based in London, U.K.

Miriam Hillawi/ designer based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Paired reading materials can be found here.

We will be kickstarting the season with a response to our first event we held back in July 2019: 'Drawing the Edge to the Centre'. Going even further, we want to push this conversation beyond the geographical and towards the personal and theoretical. We want to get into the uncomfortable truth of labour in relation to architectural production and making. To critically examine the movement of language that has historically belonged to the 'edge' (like the word 'decolonisation’). If architecture’s intimate relationship with power is essential to its realisation, what does a decolonised architectural practice look like? 

Join Nasra Abdullahi, Nana Biamah-Ofosu and the panel of invited guests as we discuss the relationship between edge and centre. Come with your questions, let’s talk!


Thursday 08 October 2020, 7pm - 8pm \ via Zoom

Tom DyckhoffOwen Hatherley, Leopold LambertLesley Lokko & Rowan Moore

Architectural history and critique have until fairly recently relied on a Eurocentric approach and narrative. Palladio [or insert any other western white male architect] is a symbol of high culture in architecture; an architecture with a capital A. When we critique architecture and design, it is largely an examination of its formal qualities and aesthetic value. But what stories are left untold? 

Join Shawn Adams, Nana Biamah-Ofosu and the panel of invited guests as we discuss the relationship between architectural journalism and power.


Thursday 15 October 2020, 7pm - 8pm \ via ZoomAlice Grandoit & Joseph Zeal-Henry

Have you ever said no to an opportunity that felt a bit...off?

At times, conversations around inequality within the architecture and design industries can manifest in acts of tokenism, unfair pay and the general relentless asking of BAME individuals to report on diversity and little else (yawn).

So when is the right time to say no? We would like to hear from our guests as well as our audience; how did you overcome that moral 'hotspot'? How did you say no? Did this influence the way you approached or accepted work after? 

Join Lois Innes and Ewa Effiom as we discuss this with the panel of invited guests.


Thursday 22 October 2020, 7pm - 8pm \ via Zoom

Since its publication in 2007, Matthew Frederick's '101 Things I Learned in Architecture School' has become a household classic to those who study and practice architecture. However, what happens when it is read and analysed through the lens of race, class and the unique problems of the current age that students and practitioners face?

Join N.A.W. members Nasra Abdullahi, Shawn Adams, Nana Biamah-Ofosu, Lois Innes and Ewa Effiom as we read and reflect on this classic. 


New Architecture Writers is a free programme for emerging design writers, developing the journalistic skill, editorial connections and critical voice of its participants. N.A.W. focuses on black and minority ethnic emerging writers who are under-represented across design journalism and curation. The core of the N.A.W. programme consists of a series of evening workshops, talks, and writing briefs with one-to-one mentoring from experienced design critics and editors throughout.

The second cohort (2019-20) of the New Architecture Writers consists of Nasra Abdullahi, Shawn Adams, Imani Jacqueline Brown, Nana Biamah-Ofosu, Lois Innes, Ewa Effiom, Ting Jui and Jasper van der Kort.

Founded in 2017, N.A.W. is run by Thomas Aquilina and Tom Wilkinson with support from the Architecture Foundation. The open call for the third cohort will be announced imminently, and details of how to apply will be posted on our website.