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How architecture practices can support aspiring architects from underrepresented communities

Keir Regan-Alexander of Morris+Company spoke to us about his involvement in the Building Futures programme, and how the architecture industry must do more to improve participation of underrepresented communities

Key details

Date: 6th May 2022

Author: Amy Cartledge

Type: Blog

Architecture has made waves in recent years attempting to improve participation of people currently underrepresented in the industry. How can architecture firms encourage more young people from underrepresented backgrounds get into the sector?

We asked Keir, Director at Morris+Company, why he got involved in our Building Futures programme, and what it meant for both his practice and the young people involved. Earlier this month, he led a 1:1 in-person portfolio tutorial and an online workshop for 90 programme participants about perfecting your portfolio when applying for roles.

“We wanted to provide direct guidance and ‘inside knowledge’ from the established industry perspective to participants to help them make best possible impact with their work through the job application process,” he said. “Often the material is all there, it just needs presenting and organising in the right way to appeal to current practice needs.”

Supporting aspiring architects

Keir and the team are actively involved in the programme, providing workshops to each cohort on crafting a job-winning portfolio. They are one of over 50 architecture practices and design firms that have committed to supporting our Building Futures programme to provide equal opportunities to those who simply can’t access this vital knowledge so easily.

“I do quite a lot of portfolio review and recruitment interviews at Morris+Company and we get so many applicants for each position, making it a highly competitive process. I see this this is an area where I can bring particular value to the programme and help make an impact.”

Building architecture networks

For Keir, it isn’t just a case of sharing this information with young people who would have difficult accessing it otherwise – it is also an opportunity to connect with what he described as “the emerging generation” of aspiring architects. “We want to make sure that we’re building networks directly to young people from underrepresented communities, and championing their pathways into the profession. This is a major challenge for architecture, an industry so dominated by people with similar background to me.”

Indeed, recent data from the Architect Registration Board revealed that just 11% of architects in the UK are from a diverse heritage background. Of this, a mere 1.3% are Black.

Meet emerging talent

The Building Futures programme relies on the support from architecture firms like Morris+Company, but getting involved in the programme is a two-way street of opportunities for both practice and participant. For Keir, it was an opportunity to meet a talented set of young architects. “It feels good putting my quite insular practice experience to a wider and more expansive use,” he explained. “Generally, I always enjoy working with young people at the start of their careers, when there is so much potential for what they can achieve!”

“We actually ended up inviting two participants to interview when positions became available at the practice, one of whom – now works with us.”

We see the programme as a great way of connecting with the emerging generation of young architects
Keir Regan-Alexander, Morris+Company