27th Sep 2018 — Celebrating Architecture

Celebrating Architecture

This summer, SWA joined the Celebrating Architecture programme, and helped to run Urban Learner architectural design workshops with KS2 London state school pupils. We are excited to be involved; to help widen access to architectural education and work towards increasing diversity in the profession. We believe that access to architectural education should be open to all, and that designers of the future should reflect the diversity of the society for which they work. 

In the context of an expanding creative sector in the UK, and in the face of continuing cuts to secondary school design, technology, music, art, and drama education funding, Celebrating Architecture is a programme intended to demonstrate the opportunities of a career in design. The programme raises awareness of the issues facing society, and organises architectural design workshops with London schools, run by industry professionals. The programme is supported by the Architecture Foundation, the Royal College of Art, and the Mayor of London. 

We attended the launch night and enjoyed the premiere of the ‘Architecture for all’ film, which was produced by the Architecture Foundation and follows the work of Neil Pinder who has been central to the success of the programme. The film argues that more needs to be done to support the involvement of young people from BAME and working-class backgrounds in the creative industries, particularly architecture. You can watch the film here.

Following on from this, Hannah and Jack from SWA helped to run the Urban Learner architectural design workshop with pupils from Torriano Primary School in Kentish Town. The workshops were initially held on site at the Serpentine Pavillion. The children examined the pavilion using measuring, sketching, and photography techniques, and they focussed on things like site, materials, views, shapes, landscape, and gathering. We then moved to the RCA Architecture studios, where the children wrote their own brief for a children’s pavilion, which they then designed and modelled using sketching and modular laser cut parts inspired by Frida Escobedo’s pavillion. Overall it was a a very enriching time for us, and hopefully the children enjoyed the day. A big shout out to the pupils at Torriano School, you really impressed us! 

Inspired by this programme and others in the profession, SWA are pleased to appoint a new Diversity Champion, Natalie Barton, who will head our work to broaden access and opportunity for all, both in our practice and through our work. If you have ideas to share on this please contact Natalie in our office.

Photographs credit: George Whale for Celebrating Architecture.