The Lawrence Legacy: Challenging Racism and Celebrating Diversity in Architecture

The Lawrence Legacy: Challenging Racism and Celebrating Diversity in Architecture

Danna Walker, Stephanie Edwards & Elsie Owusu in conversation

In 1998, the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust was set up by Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE in memory of her son who was tragically murdered 5 years previously in an unprovoked racist attack. To inspire and help people just like him in his honour, his family set up the trust to help young people realise their ambitions to become architects by supporting them with bursaries and mentoring.

This lecture, as part of our AA XX 100 series that this year focuses on inclusivity, will be a conversation between Trustee of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust Danna Walker, Stephen Lawrence Scholarship recipient and AA graduate Stephanie Edwards, and RIBA and AA Council Member Elsie Owusu to look at the legacy of Stephen Lawrence in the opportunities that the trust has provided to so many aspiring architects, but it will also be a moment to address the issues of racism and the lack of diversity still present within both architectural education and practice. As acclaimed author Toni Morrison said, “Racism is a construct, a social construct… but ‘race’ can only be defined as a human being.”

Leading up to the centenary of women at the Architectural Association in 2017, a series of lectures organised by AA XX 100 over three years, will draw different generations, disciplines and voices into a wider conversation and celebration of women and their contribution to architecture. Through presentations, dialogue and debate, the series will highlight and challenge the concerns and values of the profession which recognises the inclusive and collaborative nature of architecture, while serving as a catalyst for bigger ideas and a wider discussion of how to address ongoing issues of inequality and too little diversity within the industry. The series will feature prominent practitioners from contemporary architecture, design and urbanism, creating engaging conversations between past and present, men and women, staff and students.

Danna Walker is Chair of Architects for Change and Trustee of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. A finalist in the Precious Awards 2015, which celebrates the achievements of women of colour, Danna champions a more inclusive built environment and construction industry.

Stephanie Edwards is an Architect and Senior Urban Designer. She studied at Central St Martins before receiving a Stephen Lawrence Scholarship to study at the Architectural Association. She has since primarily focused on urban design and masterplanning at a number of offices including the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Elsie Owusu Architects and is currently working at Barton Willmore.

Elsie Owusu is principal of Elsie Owusu Architects (EOA). She is director of ArchQuestra, formed to provide the best of British architecture, art and engineering to support emerging economies. A Specialist Conservation Architect, she has wide expertise on urban planning, transport and infrastructure, completing designs for transportation systems in Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana. Elsie was a board member of Arts Council England and the National Trust of England. Recently elected as a Council Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and of the Architectural Association, she is Vice-Chair of London School of Architecture and a board member of the UK Supreme Court Arts Trust.