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RMJM, Stephen Lawrence Trust and the AJ launch Waste of Space competition

The AJ announces its media partnership with a new online competition for socially deprived and minority 18-25 year-olds, who will be sent to Harvard to study architecture this summer

The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and RMJM, working in partnership with the AJ, have launched a programme and online competition to send six young people from socially deprived or black and minority ethnic backgrounds to Harvard University, USA, this summer to study architecture.

The Architecture for Everyone programme consists of a series of architecture workshops run by RMJM staff for teens and young adults from socially deprived or minority backgrounds in four cities across the UK (Glasgow, London, Liverpool and Birmingham). The first workshop will take place in London on 7 April.

In addition to the workshops, the online Waste of Space competition, launched today, invites 18-25 year-olds from socially deprived and minority backgrounds across the country to design a new use for a derelict space or ‘waste of space’ in their neighbourhood.

A shortlist of 12 candidates will be selected from the workshops and the competition and attend a final selection in May, where six winning candidates will be vetted by a jury that includes designer Wayne Hemingway and Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic. The six winning candidates will then attend a six-week course at Harvard University this summer. 

Architecture is largely made up of white middle-class people who were programmed to come into the profession. That’s a significant problem

Peter Morrison, Chief Executive RMJM

The Architecture for Everyone campaign is backed by a £1m package of support from RMJM. Peter Morrison, chief executive of RMJM, says he hopes the programme will encourage more diversity into the architecture profession, long criticised for its elite monoculture.

‘In terms of professions within the UK, architecture is largely made up of white middle-class people who were programmed to come into the profession,’ says Morrison. ‘That’s a significant problem in my mind, because lots of the areas that need the most architectural attention are where large numbers of people from ethnic minorities live.’

Doreen Lawrence, founder of the Stephen Lawrence Trust, says she hopes the programme will also encourage young people to become more involved with architecture in their area. ‘For so long, architects have had it so much their own way, imposing their ideas instead of speaking to the people and asking them what would they like to see’.

‘Young people didn’t have a voice, they weren’t allowed to take part in the broader discussion of what was going to happen in their area,’ added Lawrence. ‘This is a way of bringing them into the discussion.’

The Architecture for Everyone programme and the Stephen Lawrence Trust were founded in memory of Doreen Lawrence’s murdered son Stephen, who wanted to be an architect.

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