Call to Action: Elect the first architectural worker as RIBA President

Call to Action: The next RIBA President needs to be representative of its members! Time for the first worker at the helm. UVW-SAW definition states – a worker is an employee without the power to fire or hire.

We, the undersigned, believe the next RIBA President needs to represent the membership of the institute; beyond the empty slogans and self-serving initiatives. In particular, more than the third of the membership composed of Students, Associates and recently qualified Architects (see Future Architects) has been long underserved and underrepresented. For too long the RIBA President position has been seen as something that operatives “are in line for” and “deserve” after years of committee meetings and empty chatter. We believe the next president needs to be in touch with the needs of this group and come from it! We have seen a successful example in RIAS where the election of Christina Gaiger RIAS at the age of thirty-four has breathed fresh new life into an organisation mired in controversy. As a figurehead, we need a drama-free RIBA president who enacts positive, ethical and progressive change.

Why? 

Early-career architects care about meaningful employment reform, labour rights and climate action – something which the RIBA refuses to engage in a prompt and meaningful manner. This conflict of interest is manifested directly when we consider that past presidents consist almost entirely of employers rather than architectural workers. We need a president who is not afraid to join in with trade unions to protect our rights. We need a president who will challenge practices that do not follow their own climate and labour pledges. A president who will attend ACAN and UVW-SAW meetings, not as a guest, but as a committed activist. Someone who will usher cultural change in the institute and prioritise its resources towards people, not assets. Someone who sees the value in supporting entrepreneurial architectural workers. Someone who will celebrate the talent of students, graduates, apprentices and early-career architects with tangible support not exposure. Someone who will promote the diverse routes that architects might take and acknowledge that everyone benefits if the RIBA includes and caters for architects that are based within other sectors and disciplines. 

We need a president who will break the cycle of mental health and labour extorsion, perpetuated in architectural education and practice, sending a clear message to the wider profession by establishing robust support mechanisms. We need someone who understands the lack of support throughout architects’ career progression, especially post-chartership and in the mid-career stage. Rather than tinkering along the edges, the next RIBA president must understand the role of the institute in perpetuating destructive cycles and actively work to reform it. We need a president who cares, someone capable of empathy, someone who is the future of architecture.

The RIBA president needs to represent the profession and be the face of the institute, but must also possess the courage to change the culture of the organisation. Elitism, privilege, misogyny, racism, homophobia and ableism have no place at the helm of a profession committed to progressive values. Help us change that!

How can we do that?

We want to encourage you to get out and vote! We are an informal group of activists, architectural workers, practitioners, academics and students. We want to be transparent, and to organise public hustings in April 2022 to select a promising leader to take the helm and lead the institute into a new era of change. Collectively amongst the signatories there are decades of experience within the structures of the RIBA, so we are happy to share our knowledge of the institute and protect you from burning out. No need to be an insider.

If you align with our values above and want to put yourself forward to be our candidate or you just want to support the campaign – complete the form: https://architecturesocial.com/elections. Husting will be hosted by the Architecture Social and  a frontrunner will be selected by public vote to be the candidate we will support and help develop a campaign to challenge the status quo. 

Can a worker perform the role?

The RIBA president needs to be a Chartered or Honorary Fellow member of the institute and to be nominated by sixty other Chartered members. The president is provided an Honorarium (it is a means-tested paid position of up to £60,000 per year) and a flat in London, which will support a recently qualified architect to perform the Presidential role. The Presidential Election is in June 2022.

We have the power!

Students, Associates (who can vote now for the RIBA president since the 2019 elections) and recently qualified Architects represent more than a third (15,000+) of the institute members, enough votes to upturn the usually poorly attended RIBA elections. Simon Allford generated 1,900 votes as first preference. Imagine what just five mobilised schools of architecture, where the students know they can vote, can achieve – each with 500+ students eligible to be RIBA members.

Now is the time to shake the institute up and take control! The RIBA and the architectural profession need new blood, a morale boost and a role model.

Signatories:

Simeon Shtebunaev, co-founder RIBA Future Architects and RIBAJ Rising Star 2021;

Stephen Drew, Founder of the Architecture Social;

Charlie Edmonds, Future Architects Front;

Priti Mohandas, Future Architects Front;

Abigail Patel, co-founder RIBA Future Architects and Past RIBA Trustee

Maryam Al-Irhayim, RIBA Vice President for Students & Associates;

Selasi Setufe MBE;

Lewis North;

Amy Francis-Smith, RIBAJ Rising Star;

Muyiwa Oki;

Adam Tarasewicz;

Dimitar Zhelev;

Charlie Butterwick, Architecture Unknown, RIBAJ Rising Star 2021;

Hiba Alobaydi, RIBA Journal Rising Star and Architecture Foundation Young Trustee;

Nadia Malekian;

Daniel Kelso, Architecture Unknown Ltd;

Kasia Oskroba, Architect;

Dan Newall;

Tamara Kahn;

Victoria Adegoke, Architect;

Philippa Birch-Wood, AJ100 Sustainability Champion Finalist 2021;

Albena Atanassova, Architect;

Urh Rucigaj Roberts, Architect;

Alice Preston-Jones;

Yanni Pitsillides, Architect;

Faisal Khan RIBA;

Priya Martin;

Douglas Spencer, Director of Graduate Education in Architecture, Iowa State University;

Tim Barton – Mace;

Nicola Wernham;

Will Jennings (architectural writer, educator);

Marianna Janowicz, Edit;

Tom Parsons, T Parsons Design Ltd;

Peter Macnaughton;

Jon Orlek, Studio Polpo;

Julia Udall, Studio Polpo;

Catalina Ionita, Architect and PhD Candidate;

Lucy Dunhill, RIBA Honorary Fellow 2022

Akil Scafe-Smith, Co-Founder of RESOLVE Collective;

Rosanna Sutcliffe, Architect;

Marija Milosevic, Architect, Mace;

Dani Reed, Architect, RIBAJ Longlisted Rising Star 2019;

Bekkii Chim, Part 2 Architectural Assistant; Mace;

Alessandro Napoli RIBA;

Aleksandra Sliwa, Architectural Manager, Mace;

Paul Unett;

BREAK//LINE (Miranda Critchley, David Roberts, Sayan Skandarajah, Thandi Loewenson);

Rebecca Tudehope, Architectural Manager at Mace; AJ ‘New Talent’ Winner 2021;

Charlie Clemoes, Editor at Failed Architecture;

Signatory Organisations:

FAF

UVW-SAW

Failed Architecture

ACAN 

The Architecure Lobby

To add your name to express interest in standing for or supporting a RIBA President who is an architectural worked, fill out this form: https://architecturesocial.com/elections

For more information contact:  [email protected] 

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