Brick By Brick, in partnership with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, has announced the winner of its ‘Housing for a Better World’ design competition. The competition was designed to find practices with an ethnically diverse workforce, bring forward positive change within the architectural profession and better reflect the diversity of the neighbourhoods in which they work. Competition entrants were asked to highlight their commitment to ethnic diversity as part of their submissions and all six shortlisted practices were BAME-led.
Jas Bhalla Architects beat the five other BAME-led teams to win a commission to design one of the schemes on Brick By Brick’s next small sites programme, which is due to start in the autumn. Practices were asked to consider how housing design can improve the urgent issues of health, sustainability and inequality for residents and wider communities, as prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic and climate emergency. Their ‘Parade Living’ concept seeks to improve poor quality housing above linear retail parades – a type of housing which is prevalent in Croydon and disproportionately used by minority ethnic groups.
The competition represents the first step for Brick By Brick in redefining how consultancy services are procured to ensure that their homes are designed and built by people who are more representative of the wider population in Croydon and London. The initiative is intended to enable the developer to widen its network of designers and start to build relationships with a range of talented practices that have been under-represented in commissioning to date.
Chloe Phelps, Head of Design and Commercial at Brick By Brick / Common Ground Architecture, said:
“This competition has shown how, with the right process, you can identify talented and exciting practices and architects from all backgrounds. We’ve learnt that by integrating the thinking into the process, the result is a more diverse field – and we hope the wider industry will start to take this approach.”
Jas Bhalla, Principal, Jas Bhalla Architects, said:
“We are really excited to have been selected by Brick By Brick, especially given the rich ideas and extremely high standard of presentations given by all finalists. The competition has been a great opportunity to explore new concepts of collective living and discuss ideas in the context of issues such as viability and delivery, ensuring proposals focus on improving housing for under-represented groups.
At the heart of our concept is the idea that if we are serious about tackling race-based inequality, it’s important to develop a nuanced understanding of how and why different cultures live a certain way. If we can do this, there’s a huge opportunity to not only deliver much need housing numbers, but also bring material change to some of the most disadvantaged groups across the borough.”