Inspiring Future Architects
“A few TV moments struck a chord with me recently.
The 2020 Great British Bake Off winner, Peter Sawkins said that he had been inspired to take up baking and wanted to be on the Channel 4 show, since watching it from the age of 10.
After the furore over the Sainsbury’s Christmas adverts, along with other supermarkets, Channel 4 took a stand against racism.
So far so good – Channel 4 living up to its reputation as being an inspiring broadcaster and a conscientious champion for diversity.
And yet, whilst watching George Clarke’s Ugly House to Lovely House what really struck me was that none of the architects looked like me or our team. All of the architects on the show were male, middle-aged and white.
Not only did I not see myself or my team represented on the screen – I couldn’t hear us either… All of the architects were spouting off about the ideology that architects are dreamers and don’t care about budgets. As architects who work with homeowners, that is so far from the truth it’s laughable.
For us, our customers’ homes are not ones where we play out our dreams but ones where we allow them to facilitate theirs. Perhaps our less privileged backgrounds mean that we strive to work within budgets since we understand that for the average person to find an extra thirty percent of the budget or £50k (whilst it makes dramatic TV) is not most people’s reality.
More importantly by Channel 4 representing architects in this way, they are telling architects of the future, from a diverse background, that you are not represented. That subliminal message is one that the few of us from diverse backgrounds in this industry already carry with us – less than 1% of architects on the register are of BAME origin. This is particularly disappointing when you consider that in the built environment where the impact of architects and architecture can be so great, this inevitably leads to build spaces that are designed without an understanding of the people that they are designed to serve.
The fact that diversity is lacking on TV shows like these means that potential diverse future architects are being led to believe that this path is not one for them – if you don’t think TV influences the next generation – you only have to listen to the 2020 Bake Off winner speak about how he was inspired by series 3.
So Channel 4, if you are true to your belief in standing up to racism and being an advocate for diversity, you MUST extend that to the professional experts on shows like Ugly House to Lovely House and see if they truly represent all spectrums of society to inspire the next architect“
– Tina Patel, Co-Founder and Director at Formed Architects and Designers