LHC Community Benefit Update: London and South East, Winter 2020/21

Through the Accelerate Programme, school students from under-represented backgrounds are being given access to invaluable education, training and mentoring opportunities in design and the built environment.

Southwark Council has partnered with Open City’s to launch its ‘Dare to Design’ initiative, which aims to inspire and support a new generation of students to pursue careers in architecture.

Open City’s Accelerate is a free course for young people which aims to increase diversity in the built professions. For nearly a decade, Accelerate has worked with top architectural practices to deliver a programme of practical workshops and mentoring sessions that equip up to 40 year 12 and 13 students from across London with the skills and portfolios they need to pursue careers in the built environment. LHC are contributing £10,000 from the Community Benefit Fund which will support ten students from Southwark to study design.

The Accelerate programme consists of skills development workshops which are delivered in a variety of London's iconic buildings and innovative sites, and mentoring sessions where students create a portfolio of work that is displayed in an end-of-course public exhibition. Students are also encouraged to include their work in their university applications and personal portfolios.

The 2021 programme will have a specific focus on Southwark and will enable students to access real-world planning conversations within the borough.  Young people will be mentored by and have work experience in practices that are part of Southwark’s architect’s framework. Linking Southwark students to design practices and built environment industries within their borough will encourage young people to be involved with projects that affect the areas where they live, learn, work and play.

Shan, a current student at Accelerate, said, “My time at Accelerate has heavily broadened my knowledge on different types of perspective styles of drawings such as elevations, elucidations and plans. Taking part in this opportunity has equipped me with appropriate problem solving skills which are extremely useful for the modern issues architects will face in our ever changing environment. By the end of the course I'm hoping to grasp a better understanding of the importance of architectural design and the process in which London's symbolic infrastructures have been created.”

Phineas Harper, Director of Open City, said, "Since launching, hundreds of young Londoners from under-represented backgrounds have participated in Accelerate, developing the skills and confidence to pursue careers in architecture, planning and other professions in the urban landscape. We believe a good city is one in which every citizen, regardless of race, wealth or gender, has a meaningful voice in shaping the future of their built environment. Southwark Council is making an enormous contribution to the lives and opportunities of the young people on the Accelerate programme, and to ensuring those with the power to design the city will eventually be as diverse as the communities they serve."

The Dare to Design programme will support the design vision of Southwark’s New Homes programme, which aims to build 11,000 new council homes across the borough by 2043. The New Homes programme seeks to maximise diversity and representation in all levels of its design and procurement practices. The programme also works with residents to shape the delivery of new council homes, from site identification through to consultation, design, planning, and delivery.

“You can’t have an excellent education without a diverse cohort.”
Alan Penn, former Dean of The Bartlett, UCL

“Accelerate is making a meaningful contribution to diversifying architecture”
Sir David Adjaye OBE

“Accelerate has given me an amazing opportunity to go beyond the school curriculum”
Arif Khan, Accelerate student 2017-8

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