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Climate activists, former president and diversity champions run for RIBA council

Riba voting ballot council
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Environmental activists, pro-diversity architects and a former RIBA president are running for a seat on RIBA Council

Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN) has put forward five candidates, who pledge to make ‘human and planetary wellbeing the top priority of the RIBA’.

They will be up against several candidates for regional and national seats on the council who are pushing for more diversity at the institute.

These include HOK’s Femi Oresanya, chair of the RIBA’s Architects for Change group, as well as his fellow panellists Timothy Onyenobi, Angela Dapper and Pedro Gil.

Sarah Akigbogun, who is one of 18 architects running for six London council seats, has also said diversity is one of her ‘core issues’. Meanwhile Simone de Gale, one of the first architect recipients of the Stephen Lawrence Bursary Award, is hoping to be re-elected to national council and is up against nine other contenders standing for two national council member seats.

In a statement (published in full below), ACAN acknowledged ‘the lack of diversity’ in its group of candidates – Duncan Baker-Brown, Joe Giddings, Alasdair Ben Dixon, Anna Webster, and Seb Laan Lomas - encouraged its supporters to ‘extend their support to some of the other candidates standing on climate and social justice platforms’.

Jack Pringle, RIBA president from 2005 to 2007, is running for a London council seat to turn around what he describes as the ‘torrid time the institute has had over the past decade’.

Speaking to the AJ, Pringle said he was standing because the RIBA had ‘lost its way’.

He lamented the ‘poor decisions that have resulted in Portland Place being as dead as a dodo; the sale of part of RIBA Enterprises to raise money; the president who had to stand down for a while under investigation; and the appointment of Nigel Carrington, a lawyer, to chair the RIBA Board.’

However Piers Taylor, founder of Invisible Studio Architects and host of The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes, who had initially thrown his hat into the ring for one of the two national council seats, has since withdrawn.

Taylor told the AJ: ’With all that is happening, politically, socially, climatically, do I really want to use valuable time […] within an outmoded and antediluvian institution when there are far better places to invest my energy, such as in teaching or in practice.

’I’m sick of talking, which is all the RIBA does from a position of relative insularity. Far better to quit the RIBA – which I’ll do if Simon Allford gets in [as the next president] – and invest any energy I have elsewhere.’

Five council members have already been elected unopposed, while the RIBA South council seat will remain vacant, with no architect having put themself forward.

A new president for the Royal Society for Architects in Wales, Gavin Traylor, has also been named after standing unopposed.

Anonymous voting for the council seats will open next Tuesday (14 July), on the same day as voting for the next RIBA President.

A full overview of who is running, and has been elected, to each seat can be viewed on the RIBA’s website here.

Statement from Architects Climate Action Network architects running for RIBA council seats 

We are a group of individuals who met through ACAN and have jointly decided to stand for RIBA Council. Our goal is to guide the strategic direction of the RIBA so that human and planetary well-being becomes the top priority of the institution. We are committed to taking action to address the twin crises of climate and ecological breakdown and we recognise that we are in a state of planetary emergency, acknowledging the need for ambitious and radical change within our profession.

We note that in December 2018 the institute unequivocally committed to ‘placing public interest, social purpose, ethics and sustainable development at the heart of its activities’. Further to that, in June 2019, the RIBA declared a climate and biodiversity emergency. Whilst we support these commitments and recent initiatives such as the RIBA 2030 challenge and an overhaul of the awards criteria, we want the institute to act faster to radically upskill its members and effect a cultural shift across the profession.

We hope that by strengthening the climate voice on the RIBA Council with committed individuals who are already taking direct action to address the most pressing issues of our time we can directly influence the RIBA to accelerate its commitments; overhauling education, lobbying government, building industry knowledge and transforming professional culture by prioritising ethical practice.

We represent a fast-growing network of professionals with a diverse knowledge-base and unfailing energy. Much of our network is made up of younger architects, assistants and students, we aim to represent this group’s interests and ensure that the RIBA is transparent and representative of a broader professional spectrum.

We recognise that advocating for climate justice means advocating for social justice. We are keen to tackle issues of diversity and race within our profession through inclusivity, openness and honesty. With this in mind, we recognise the lack of diversity within our group of candidates and encourage eligible voters to extend their support to some of the other candidates standing on climate and social justice platforms.

Duncan Baker-Brown is standing in the South-East region, Joe Giddings is standing for National Council, and Alasdair Ben Dixon, Anna Webster, and Seb Laan Lomas are standing for the London region.

On Friday 10 July 5-6pm ACAN, Architects Declare and Architecture Education Declares will host a ‘Climate Hustings’ for the five RIBA presidential candidates. Indy Johar will chair the hustings. Click here to register for the free event.

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • Climatic change occurs in both regular cycles and by erratic change due to cosmic events. Global political instability and finite resources threaten our energy and other sources. We have to design for all of this. However, I am neither a believer nor denier of man's influence on climate change, because no matter how hard I try I have not been able to find empirical evidence that man's carbon consumption has a significant effect on global climate change. Everything I read is debunked by science, the precedent of ancient history or is simply the vehicle for ulterior political motives. To conflate "Climate Change" with man's carbon footprint seems incorrect due to the lack of empirical evidence. The UN has been debunked on this. Co-incidence is not adequate proof. Can someone direct me to the empirical evidence.

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  • It is incredible that anyone is still claiming that climate science is not conclusive. It makes me wonder what it will take to convince some people. Not science I guess.
    Read the IPCC reports. There is no serious debate anymore. We need to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees if we can as it will have catastrophic consequences if we don’t. Now is time for action not talking. Good luck to ACAN supporting candidates from a mixed race architect #climatejustice #buildbackbetter

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  • We have more carbon in our atmosphere now than any time since teh pleioscene, that is way before teh dinosaurs, when sea levels were about 20m higher and temperatures a lot hotter.

    the fact that we still get posts like the above points to very serious problems in the way architecture is taught, and the requirements and regulation of our CPD services. Where is our leadership on this as an industry? How have we failed so badly over decades on this? we are behind every other sector of the construction industry now

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