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Can architects make a difference?

Architecture Symposium Debate


Tuesday 7 June 2022
6.30 — 8pm

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Climate Protests in London

Photo by Gabriel McCallin on Unsplash

Join the RA and Archiboo for a debate questioning how architects can and should make a difference.

Please note: this is an on-site event only

From venerable institutions to small practices, the days of architecture staying silent amidst complex societal and environmental issues are over. Or are they?

Architects have always had to balance social ambitions with the needs of the market and generation of profit. But today practices are expected to stake out their position on a range of issues from climate change to mental health or be prepared to face reputational damage and loss of cultural currency.

There’s a clear generation gap, not just about appropriate subjects for debate, but the best communication channels to use – with social media offering new platforms for accountability.

For a previous generation, architecture’s renewed focus on social causes is a significant rethink of a job description that sought to effect change through design. But a new generation of practitioners want to know where their bosses stand before they publicly support a cause – or even work for a practice.

Is this collision of architecture and activism good for society? Should we be celebrating architecture’s changing set of attitudes or is this simply a misguided attempt to revive the profession’s dwindling reputation with the public?


Charlie Edmonds is founder of the Future Architects Front, and is Dark Matter Designer at Civic Square. In 2021 Charlie was shorlisted for the Archiboo Activism Award.

Amy Francis-Smith is an architect at Pinnegar Hayward Design and a campaigner and consultant for disabled access. In 2021 Amy won the Archiboo Activism Award and was named a ‘Rising Star’ by the RIBA Journal.

Dr. Penny Lewis is the Programme Lead for the University of Dundee and Wuhan University Architectural Studies Programme and editor of Architecture and Collective Life (Taylor & Francis, 2021).

Joe Morris is managing director of Morris+Company, formerly Duggan Morris Architects. This practice has been recognised widely both critically though peer review and with multiple awards in the U.K. and Europe.

Kunle Olulode (chair) is the director of Voice4Change England, a BME charity and infrastructure body. Its members number over 450 black community organisations and charities covering everything from criminal justice to migrant rights. He was co-opted Commissioner on the Commission of Race and Ethnic Disparities.

This event is organised in partnership with Archiboo

Drinks reception supported by SOM and Buro Happold, supporters of the 2022 Archiboo Activism Award

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

Tuesday 7 June 2022

6.30 — 8pm

The Benjamin West Lecture Theatre, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

£15, £9 Please note your ticket will include a small drinks reception following the talk

Book now