As architects and designers, we build a backdrop for stories. When making design decisions we are shaping an experience for someone, somewhere. In the UK, 93 properties under the care of The National Trust have links with slavery and colonialism, according to a report by the trust released in 2020. The elegant architecture, proportions, and grandeur of the quintessential British Stately homes came at a cost for many. There is blood behind the beauty.
We must not be complicit in either exploitation or the exclusion of people in our work. And we must be inclusive at all levels. There is an alarming lack of diversity in the design and architectural profession in the UK, with Black architects in the minority. The 2020 AJ’s report on race and diversity in the profession described architecture as “structurally racist.” And, 43% of black respondents to the study said racism was widely prevalent, an increase from 30% on the previous year.
Many respondents of the survey struggled to name a leading Black architect also, a worrying sign in multicultural Britain. Act we must, by giving young students from Black and underrepresented backgrounds access to education. Celebrating Black role models, showcasing people of colour in architectural renders and photography, and listening to their unique perspective, will make us a truly forward-thinking profession.
And there is more. Racism runs rife in corporate culture also, not just in this country. A survey by the Future Forum, a research consortium created by Slack Technologies in the US, reported that a large proportion of We are responsible for designing safe, inclusive environments, including workplaces, and enhancing everyday experiences through design.