It was a delight to attend the annual Stephen Lawrence Memorial Lecture at 66 Portland Place earlier this week organised by the Stephen Lawrence Memorial Trust. This year’s theme was ‘The Role of Community in Architecture’ and included a series of short presentations by Sheila O'Donnell & John Tuomey, Elsie Owusu, Bob Sheil and Kibwe Tavares followed by a panel discussion chaired by Darren Coomber, chief executive of Scott Brownrigg.
Last night’s talks highlighted how far we need to go to make the architectural profession accessible to black, asian, minority and ethnic students. Elsie suggested setting up a Practice of Origin Award, akin to the MOBO awards to highlight individuals that are making a difference and for them to act as role models.
The beautiful and thoughtful community projects by O’Donnell & John Tuomey showed how powerful architecture can be in reigniting the spark of local communities, in particular the Timberyard social housing project where their detailed analysis of the community fostered an outcome that is celebrated by the residents today.
However, trustee Stuart Lawrence delivered a more powerful message about the importance of caring for one another both inside and outside the home. He reminded us about the simple things in life, such as how sharing home grown vegetables with neighbours is a great way of encouraging a sense of community – a concept he artfully demonstrated by sharing his own tomatoes with the audience!