It has been shown in recent weeks that the incredible work done by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust (SLCT) is as important as ever. Its role in highlighting and tackling inequality in all forms is vital and we are proud to be part of their programmes aimed at widening access to the architectural profession.
The HKS team, in collaboration with the trust, developed the ‘Getting Into Architecture’ interactive booklet
which aims to give young people a basic understanding of what an architect is and what they do, opening their eyes to the potential of a career in architecture. This forms part of a campaign by SLCT to demonstrate to young people from under-represented groups that they can – and should – aspire to enter professions such as architecture.
Diversity in architecture is so important – for the benefit of individuals to realise their potential in the field; for the benefit of the profession by creating a larger talent pool; and for the benefit of society as it creates more relevant architecture.
And this extends beyond architecture. We need the whole design team – from clients and funders to the wider design team – to have a range of life experience gained from a variety of backgrounds. When spaces are being created by teams that more closely resemble the residents and users, it can only benefit the end result. However, regardless of the benefits, promoting diversity and increasing social mobility is simply the right thing to do.
Many young people are still not provided with the resources or knowledge to show them what a career in architecture looks like. ‘Getting Into Architecture’ explains the process of qualifying as an architect and includes insight from individual HKS employees as to what a day in the life of an architect looks like at different stages for example as a Part 1 and Part 2. In addition, it provides an overview of the sort of jobs available in the wider construction industry.
Of course, we recognise that simply promoting a career in architecture isn’t enough – young people also need mentors and people to support them and believe in them. This is the case whether their ambition is to qualify as an architect or to become a managing director and I am a huge advocate of this.
There is a long way to go, and a lot more to be done before architecture can call itself a truly diverse profession and one approach to addressing the issue is at ‘grass roots’ level and by widening access and knowledge about our profession.