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RIBA Council elections a 'huge success' in improving diversity

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This year’s RIBA Council elections have been described as a ‘huge success’ for increasing the institute’s diversity

Eight of the 18 newly elected council members stood as part of the +25 Campaign – an initiative to significantly increase the number of Black, Asian or minority-ethnic (BAME) architects on the council.

Society of Black Architects (SOBA) founder and RIBA Council member Elsie Owusu, who spearheaded the campaign, praised the results for increasing diversity within the institute.

Owusu called the initiative a ‘huge success’ and – although not all of the +25 Campaign candidates were elected – described the result as ‘totally historic’.

The campaign was backed by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust (SLCT) and Richard Rogers, a co-founding patron of the SOBA, as well as a number of other high-profile individuals.

The new members from the +25 initiative included Simone deGale, of Simone de Gale Architects, and Yemi Aladerun, who were elected as two of six national council members; and Alice Asafu-Adjaye, founding director of Accra studio Mustard, who was elected international council member for the Middle East and Africa. 

Four London Regional Council seats went to +25 candidates Stephanie Edwards, Lanre Gbolade, Indy Johar, and Michael Martin; and the campaign also saw Selasi Setufe elected as an Associate Member of Council.

However, the chair of the Society of Black Architects, Chris Nasah, failed to be elected as a national council member.

RIBA president Jane Duncan, president-elect Ben Derbyshire and ex-RIBA president Angela Brady were among those to throw their weight behind the campaign.

In total, 14 candidates stood as part of the +25 Campaign – from a total of 52 contenders.

Owusu added: ‘This is not the end [of the campaign]. Going into 2018, we hope to work with the SLCT to give a real boost to social justice.

‘One of ideas is to campaign for Michelle and Barack Obama to speak at the RIBA, to focus the attention on the urgent need for diversity in architecture, and to commemorate Stephen Lawrence’s murder. None of this would have happened without the support from Doreen Lawrence and the SLCT.’ 

Outside the +25 initiative, other newly elected national councillors include Reading University architecture professor Flora Samuel, formerly head of architecture at Sheffield University where she was the first woman to hold the post; Patrick Lynch of Lynch Architects; and John Assael of Assael Architecture. 

RIBA Council, which has four scheduled meetings per year, is the ultimate governing body at the institute. In June, the AJ revealed that the institute commissioned law firm BWB to independently review the institute’s governance structure.

Although the report acknowledged the council was the ‘highest authority within the RIBA’s governance structure’, it found that the organisation’s structure was ‘fundamentally flawed’. 

The agenda for an impromptu, private council meeting to discuss the findings of the report, noted a resolution at the previous council meeting in Hull in March to reduce the council size from up to 63 members to nearer 45.

An RIBA spokesperson told the AJ that the reduction in the council’s size would occur ‘progressively over a couple of years, as council member terms expire until we get down to the new agreed size’.

RIBA councillors are elected for a three-year term, with elections held every year and an approximate rotation of one third of the council. 

The new council members will take up their posts on 1 September. 

RIBA Council elections 2017 results

The following chartered members were elected as national council members:

  • Flora Samuel
  • John Assael
  • Jason Bill
  • Patrick Lynch
  • Simone de Gale
  • Yemi Aladerun

The following chartered members were elected as London Regional Council members:

  • Alia Beyg Javed
  • Christopher Hampson
  • Debbie Flevotomou
  • Indy Johar
  • Lanre Gbolade
  • Michael Martin
  • Stephanie Edwards
  • Wendy Charlton

The following chartered members were elected as international council members:

  • Alice Asafu-Adjaye – Middle East and Africa
  • Catherine Davis – Americas
  • Roger Tsan-Sum Wu – Asia and Australasia

Abigail Patel was elected as a student member of council.

The following chartered members take uncontested seats as regional council members:

  • Andrew Bourne – Wessex
  • Nick Mills – Wessex
  • Anthony Lloyd – West Midlands
  • Graham Devine – South West
  • John Wilde – South West
  • Kerr Robertson - Scotland South

Selasi Setufe takes the uncontested seat as associate member of council.

Valeria Passetti was elected vice president membership for two years starting on 1 September 2017

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Yasmin Shariff

    A great step forward . All we need now is 50% women and we can start to shake off the arrogant out of touch white male image we have. have.

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  • Do you believe the 'out of touch' bit has anything to do with gender or ethnic diversity? My discussions with those who work with architects see their education as the major problem.

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