Race, class and confidence: Architecture needs a bigger tent

Richard Gatti of GRR

The lack of racial diversity on Southwark’s ‘inclusive’ framework is a symptom of a wider problem, writes Richard Gatti, whose YAYA-winning small practice was one of the successful firms

The new Southwark framework has come in for a lot of criticism: particularly with regards to the number of practices run by black architects (spoiler: none). While the framework, run by LHC and the London Borough of Southwark, will be available to all public sector bodies within London, Southwark itself is over 25% black.

In fact, nearly all of the principals of practices on the framework look a bit like me – that is white, male and most likely middle class.

That’s pretty shocking for a profession that leans left and on the whole considers itself inclusive. And it takes us beyond just race: while race is important, the gender disparity is still on display, 120 years after the RIBA first admitted women. Issues of disability and sexual/gender identity are less discussed and, as with class, harder to discern from a name and a photograph.

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