In a profession whose diversity has been questioned over the years, representing the LGBTQ+ community has made me reflect on the importance of visibility. While we are taking steps forward in order to make architecture accessible to all, it is essential that we promote the industry as an inclusive environment.
Architecture is a male-dominant profession, and can be perceived as an intimidating environment for someone to be vocal about their sexuality or gender identity. Whether we are in the office, on site or in meetings, what are we doing to achieve visibility in the spaces we work in?
The scarcity of underrepresented groups in architecture makes it harder to resonate through the industry. However, as a collective of LGBTQ+ members and allies, we can do something to change this.
Represent your individuality. The “closeted” life was once a daunting time for me, and the constant anxiety of having to hide who I was is a feeling many LGBTQ+ members can relate to. Entering an office where we spend the most part of our life while having to hide who we are can be stressful, and affect our personal wellbeing. LGBTQ+ visibility can create a more open environment in the studio and encourage staff, clients and visitors to be bold to be different.
Pronouns in emails signatures are a small yet effective way to promote visibility. It tells me more about who you are as a person, and helps to signify that you are a member or ally of the LGBTQ+ community who I can be my whole self around.
Keeping quiet out of the fear of saying the wrong thing is a common feeling in the professional world. However, don’t feel embarrassed or scared to ask questions. The best way to better understand and help one another is by getting to know each other: we all have different life experiences and can learn from one another. In turn, this can lead to the use of more inclusive language and an accepting place of work.
The industry is lacking in diversity (and not only LGBTQ+ diversity), so it’s important to ask what we’re doing to improve this. At ADP, we are constantly looking of ways to reach out to underrepresented groups, and offer our mentorship services through work experience and ongoing mentoring schemes. We are building a programme of outreach to primary and secondary schools to foster an interest in architecture from a young age.
A large pool of children who believe their background or identity is not represented in the construction industry could benefit from visible role models and mentors. These mentors have made it through the challenges of university and employment, and can guide the future generation through similar challenges towards qualifying as an architect.
As a proudly queer South Asian designer, it is vital I take the opportunity to share my own experiences. I encourage other individuals within the industry – whatever their role – to do the same to help diversify our workplaces.
Part II Architectural Assistant
Insights | 23rd November 2022
Andrew Nock, an associate at our London studio, shares his thoughts on ADP’s vision and how he applied it to his role as a mental health first aider, detailing his own struggles during lockdown. From where I sit, I see recovery, but more poignantly, I feel recovery. My working life and the studio atmosphere is […]
Insights | 15th October 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges – and not only the obvious issues of health and wellbeing. Phrases like social distancing, self-isolation and lockdown have become part of the pandemic lexicon, and they reflect new spatial, physical and psychological relationships
that we need to consider and design for.