Danna Walker, Stephanie Edwards & Elsie Owusu in conversation

The Lawrence Legacy: Challenging Racism and Celebrating Diversity in Architecture

Series: AA XX 100
Date: Monday 22 February 2016
Time: 18:00
Venue: Lecture Hall
Running time: 86 mins

In 1998, the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust was set up by Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE in memory of her son who was tragically murdered 5 years previously in an unprovoked racist attack. To inspire and help people just like him in his honour, his family set up the trust to help young people realise their ambitions to become architects by supporting them with bursaries and mentoring.

This lecture, as part of our AA XX 100 series that this year focuses on inclusivity, will be a conversation between Trustee of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust Danna Walker, Stephen Lawrence Scholarship recipient and AA graduate Stephanie Edwards, and RIBA and AA Council Member Elsie Owusu to look at the legacy of Stephen Lawrence in the opportunities that the trust has provided to so many aspiring architects, but it will also be a moment to address the issues of racism and the lack of diversity still present within both architectural education and practice. As acclaimed author Toni Morrison said, “Racism is a construct, a social construct… but ‘race’ can only be defined as a human being."

Leading up to the centenary of women at the Architectural Association in 2017, a series of lectures organised by AA XX 100 over three years, will draw different generations, disciplines and voices into a wider conversation and celebration of women and their contribution to architecture. Through presentations, dialogue and debate, the series will highlight and challenge the concerns and values of the profession which recognises the inclusive and collaborative nature of architecture, while serving as a catalyst for bigger ideas and a wider discussion of how to address ongoing issues of inequality and too little diversity within the industry. The series will feature prominent practitioners from contemporary architecture, design and urbanism, creating engaging conversations between past and present, men and women, staff and students.

Danna Walker is Chair of Architects for Change and Trustee of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. A finalist in the Precious Awards 2015, which celebrates the achievements of women of colour, Danna champions a more inclusive built environment and construction industry.

Stephanie Edwards is an Architect and Senior Urban Designer. She studied at Central St Martins before receiving a Stephen Lawrence Scholarship to study at the Architectural Association. She has since primarily focused on urban design and masterplanning at a number of offices including the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Elsie Owusu Architects and is currently working at Barton Willmore.

Elsie Owusu is principal of Elsie Owusu Architects (EOA). She is director of ArchQuestra, formed to provide the best of British architecture, art and engineering to support emerging economies. A Specialist Conservation Architect, she has wide expertise on urban planning, transport and infrastructure, completing designs for transportation systems in Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana. Elsie was a board member of Arts Council England and the National Trust of England. Recently elected as a Council Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and of the Architectural Association, she is Vice-Chair of London School of Architecture and a board member of the UK Supreme Court Arts Trust. 

Image: The Stephen Lawrence Centre, Lewisham by Adjaye Associates

All lectures are open to members of the public, staff and students unless otherwise stated.

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The Architectural Association receives Taught Degree Awarding Powers by the Lords of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

The Architectural Association (AA), the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom, is pleased to announce that it has been granted the power to award its own degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards and is working to create some of the world’s most pioneering courses in architecture to shape and build the future.

Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prospective students worldwide can apply to the AA Foundation Course (Foundation Certificate), Experimental Programme BA(Hons), Diploma Programme (MArch), and nine taught postgraduate programmes encompassing History and Critical Thinking in Architecture (MA), Projective Cities (Taught MPhil) and Sustainable Environmental Design (MSc/MArch), amongst others.

AA Director, Eva Franch said, ‘since our founding in 1847 we have never ceased to create new horizons, institutionally and academically. This is a significant milestone for the AA and demonstrates how we have grown and progressed as an institution that has always valued independence. Receiving TDAP marks a new era for our institution; these are exciting times for the AA. The process has required considerable work from all members of staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to credit them for this major achievement’.

President of the AA Council, Victoria Thornton added, ‘the TDAP process has recognised our strong governance, academic standards, scholarship and teaching as well as the environment supporting the delivery of taught higher education programmes’.

The School’s application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers was supported by the Architects Registration Board, the Royal Institute of British Architects and The Open University.