‘Diversity’ – Is There Nothing It Can’t Do?

There’s an architect’s impression of a new development for Greenwich, south-east London, that has caused some outrage on social media. The Elysian rendering of Charlton Riverside features 36 people frolicking in the park, and only one of them is black.

Oh, we’ve been here before, haven’t we, reader?

Architects are overwhelmingly male and pale, young and privileged, and there are legitimate concerns about them designing our cities in their image. Fewer than one in every 10 architects is black, Asian or minority-ethnic, and less than a third of UK qualified architects are women.


Lately I’ve found myself imagining what the world might look like if the people who designed it – politicians, planners, developers and architects – were more diverse.

This’ll be good! *settles in with popcorn*

I don’t believe that men and women design differently, or that poverty and ethnicity inform architecture, but lived experience is a great teacher. The regeneration projects of the past decade are more about planters and cappuccinos than access to free drinking water, public toilets, cheap groceries and a post office.

Wait, a post office..? Do those still exist? Isn’t it 2018?

What would our cities be like if mothers had more of a role in designing them? There would be ramps everywhere, for a start.

Which take up more room that stairs. Making things more expensive. Great job, mums!

If teenagers designed cities, charging your phone would be a human right.


Adverts featuring beautiful, thin people would be banned. There would be chip shops on every corner.


Strangely, there’s nothing in the article about what ethnic minorities might design. Help her out in the comments, reader!

Who on earth is this blithering idiot, anyway?

Christine Murray is the founder of the Women in Architecture awards

Ah. OK, I think I’ve seen a pretty good reason to keep architecture ‘pale and male’.

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7 comments for “‘Diversity’ – Is There Nothing It Can’t Do?

  1. Stonyground
    September 10, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Well we could sort out the problems caused by building on flood plains for a start. We could get the Moulsecoomb Bangladeshi Women’s Group to design us some grass huts on stilts.

    • September 16, 2018 at 7:43 am


  2. Penseivat
    September 10, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    If they really wanted diversity, the image would include a number of moped riders, with the pillion passenger waving a machete; several travellers caravans (not forgetting the piles of rubbish, human faeces, and burnt out vehicles they leave behind) parked on the manicured lawn; half a dozen men from the Indian sub continent or North Africa hanging about the children’s play area, and the odd ambulance parked up waiting to take the latest FGM victim to hospital. I’m sure the properties will sell like hot cakes, or chappatis, or whatever.

    • September 16, 2018 at 7:41 am


  3. john in cheshire
    September 10, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    I think too many ethnics of a certain religious persuasion have already made too much of an impact on our architectural landscape and not in a good way. So, no more please and leave the important decisions to grown up white English Christians.

  4. seekerofthetruth
    September 10, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    How about this female architect?
    Oh, wait…
    “I am not a female architect. I am an architect”
    Dorte Mandrup | 25 May 2017
    We need to stop promoting “female architects” in worthy lists and exhibitions, so that women can be seen as more than second-class citizens, argues Danish architect Dorte Mandrup.

    • September 16, 2018 at 7:42 am

      Spot on!

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