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The RIBA National Awards show a wealth of talent – but there’s more if we care to look

Emily Booth
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We need to encourage and nurture talent wherever it is found; and sometimes we have to actively seek it out, says Emily Booth

At a time when there is so much discussion about the role of the UK in the wider world, and about the necessity for a positive international outlook among architects and architecture, it is important not to forget – nor overlook – the abundance of talent close to home.

Three points this week illustrate this. First up, our news feature about the cofounders of Black Females in Architecture highlights the access and visibility issues facing black women architects in the UK. It also sheds light on the substantial amount of emerging, yet under-the-radar, talent in the industry.

As network cofounder Akua Danso says: ‘We are here to work; we are here to create buildings and shape our city. It should be about that, not about colour. Someone should employ you on that alone, but it’s not happening.’

Secondly, the Serpentine Pavilion might have had a rather subdued press launch this year, for well-reported reasons, but one of the questions underpinning the annual commission is: are they missing a trick by not allowing emerging and up-and-coming architects who have built a permanent structure in the UK to take on the brief? There are many home-grown architects who would excel at this opportunity – and it might help extend the Serpentine Pavilion’s relevance and reach.

Thirdly, the AJ’s annual Student Survey considers life in practice for the next generation of architects. We know that mental health is a significant issue for students. But what about that crucial next step into the world of work? How can the profession help make that a positive, worthwhile experience to the benefit of all? We encourage you to fill out our survey so we can better understand the issues facing those who will be crucial in keeping architecture relevant for the future. 

In short, we need to encourage and nurture talent, wherever it is found. And remember that sometimes we have to actively seek it out. As the range and quality of work on show among the RIBA National Awards demonstrates, there is much talent to celebrate. We are all here to work, we are all here to create.

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