Black in Architecture
Black in Architecture (BiA) is an emerging research unit founded by Juliet Sakyi-Ansah in the summer of 2020 following the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter Protests. BiA aims to amplify the voices of, and gather the lived experiences of architects and architecture students who identify as Black or Black British, to inform a charter for racial justice in UK architecture. The research and its associated activities makes up one strand of the initiative. The other strand is about proposing a charter for racial justice in architecture that others who identify as Black or Black British wil be invited to co-edit before the wider architecture community is invited to review, endorse and sign the charter.
In autumn 2021, BiA collaborated with Oxford Brookes School of Architecture’s Place, Culture and Identity Research group with the aim to explore and discuss issues of racial equity in UK architecture, and to start drafting a charter to help address race and systemic racism. The programme for the collaboration included a symposium on Race in Architectural Education held at Oxford Brookes University, an online reading group and an exhibition at the School of Architecture End of Year Show.
Opened to the public and Oxford Brookes University staff and students, the in-person symposium attracted 35 academic staff, students and practitioners. The reading group sessions, open to staff and students at the university, created a safe space for reflections on a selection of existing work on race and diversity in architecture. The End of Year show provided the space to visually communicate the work from the collaboration and promote the initiative beyond the School of Architecture.
A survey among staff and students was launched at the end of the academic year in 2022 to gather experiences of race and racism in architectural education and practice. The Black in Architecture Staff and Student Survey 2022 complements the initial BiA 2020 survey, which the collaborating team are using to inform the draft charter, starting with the Principles for Race Equity in Architecture.
Whilst the collaboration between the Place, Culture and Identity and Black in Architecture ended at the end of the 2021-22 academic year, the on-going partnership between the two research groups is focused on developing the charter at Oxford Brookes University.
BiA is currently collaborating with the London School of Architecture (LSA) to support and develop the Black in Architecture emerging principles underpinning the charter on architecture, race and equity in the UK. The collaboration with the LSA also aims to feed the emerging principles and work from Black in Architecture into LSA’s approach and teachings.