Connecting People and Places

 

Our Connecting People and Places project, funded by Historic England, sets out to ask the question: how have BAME communities had a voice in the planning and design of sites that are significant to them?

Centred on the Trust’s belief that the world around us should represent the people who live in it, this young person-led, community participatory research project was launched in response to ‘The Race Diversity Survey’ ; which was published in collaboration with the Architects Journal in 2018.

On the 10th of September 2019 we celebrated and shared the early findings of the project at the annual Stephen Lawrence memorial lecture at the RIBA. We heard from our student researchers about their findings and talked to others involved in the project about what heritage means to them.

Showcased at the lecture was a short film made by research participants: Ayshah Begum and Pragga Saha. This animation hights the people and places encountered on the research trips across England, with illustration of case studies and sound bites of conducted interviews.

 

This project supports Historic England’s work to enrich our understanding of the buildings and places that are important to our national history, highlighting the histories and places that are important to people from diverse backgrounds. We believe that by researching, documenting and celebrating examples of heritage that are important to BAME communities, not only will it will make our understanding of the historic environment more diverse, but it will inspire a new generation of architects from BAME backgrounds.

 

Phase 1 saw the recruitment of a team of aspiring architects from BAME backgrounds, underpinned by guidance and support from qualified architects. The team explored and documented heritage case studies in England’s six regions (the North West, North East & Yorkshire, the Midlands, East of England, South West and London & the South East). They researched and visited the architects, buildings and places of historic interest that have been designed by or are important to people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. The team are finding out as much as they can about their stories, how they have shaped history, and their value within our communities today.

For a taste of the fascinating stories we have already collected on our project, visit our Soundcloud page.

Final findings from the project are expected be published in 2020, creating a permanent and accessible public record. Not only will this help to ensure that these historic buildings and places are protected for future generations, but it will showcase the positive impact BAME communities have had on the environment we live in, and inspire more young people to take an interest in and get involved with their local heritage.

Without role models that they can relate to, young people from BAME backgrounds can be deterred from training as architects, believing it is ‘not for people like me’. We want to inspire young people from BAME backgrounds and give them the confidence that a career in architecture is for people like them.

Frustratingly, although England is the birthplace and home of many internationally renowned architects and iconic buildings, the work of architects from black and minority ethnic backgrounds is often less well known.