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An evening of true inspiration: The Stephen Lawrence Memorial Lecture 2017

An evening of true inspiration at this year’s Stephen Lawrence Memorial Lecture, in memory of the aspiring young architect.

The event was held in the iconic home of the Royal Institute of British Architects on Tuesday 12th September, the day before what would have been Stephen’s 43rd birthday.

As guests started to arrive at 6pm, it wasn’t long before the Florence Hall was filled with over 400 guests, each of whom were able to explore the fantastic alumni exhibition on display.

Keynote speakers, Francis Kere, Spencer de Grey and Simone de Gale joined Baroness Lawrence in meeting the young aspiring architects before the lecture started.

Scott Brownrigg’s Albena Atanassova welcomed guests to the exhibition and shone a light on the 7-year partnership between Scott Brownrigg and the Trust, with the AJ100 practice supporting the annual alumni exhibition. Alumni member Ibilola Femiola followed, talking the guests through the 10 exhibits on display and the theme of sensory architecture.

Newly elected RIBA president, Ben Derbyshire, officially opened the lecture, during which he awarded Meelad Faris a prestigious Stephen Lawrence Bursary Prize, which his practice HTA had donated. Chair of Trustees at The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, Sir Keith Ajegbo, previewed a short film designed to showcase the ground-breaking work of the Trust’s Building Futures programme. The evening’s lecture was chaired by alumni member Thomas Aqualina and the Trust’s CEO, Sonia Watson, who were the perfect duo to set the scene.


Francis Kere’s keynote address took the audience on an truly inspirational journey, from his home town of Burkina Faso to Berlin, Germany, where he studied and now runs his successful practice. Then to London, where Francis shared his recent works with the Serpentine Pavilion in Hyde Park. His message to the young generation of architects in the audience was to know that anything is possible and that they can achieve all they wish to achieve if they set their mind to it. Spencer de Grey OBE, then took to the stage and spoke about the resilience needed to be an architect and focused on his iconic extension with Foster + Partners for the British Museum. Spencer gave an insight into what large scale projects can bring in the way of challenges, and told the audience that resilience is needed at every stage and level of one’s career. Architect and Alumni member Simone de Gale closed the key note speeches, sharing her recent master plan project. Simone reminded the students in the audience that architecture is an art form, it’s subjective and open to varied opinions, so they should all take criticism with that in mind.

The lecture drew to a close with the award for ‘outstanding contribution by an alumni member’ being awarded to Gisselle Casio. Last year’s recipient, Srimathi Aiyer, presented the award to Gisselle. Since winning the award last year , Srimathi has gone on to become a Trustee of The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and is in the process of finishing her Part 3 architecture qualification with the firm MACE. Gisselle was chosen by the Trust to receive this year’s award as she has been an outstanding advocate of the Trust,  introducing HKS Architects to the Trust, helping launch the Building Futures programme at the House of Lords in 2014, and supporting the Trust’s schools programmes.


‘The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust would like to thank everyone who attended this year’s lecture, as well as our heartfelt thanks to all who have supported, sponsored and contributed toward making the event a huge success, we look forward to seeing you all next year”.

– Sonia Watson – Chief Executive of The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

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