Prince Charles today called on the architectural profession to encourage more recruits from the ethnic minorities, but a leading black architect said the initiative would have no effect without support from institutions and clients.
Elsie Owusu Architects director Elsie Owusu said discrimination against ethnic minorities was still rife among clients. “There is a huge amount of discrimination from within the industry and from clients, particularly corporate clients.”
The prince, who was delivering the first Stephen Lawrence memorial lecture, talked about using his own Prince’s Foundation to tackle the problem.
Owusu, backing the prince’s stance on the need for a greater effort to attract ethnic minority architects, said: “We need all the help we can get, but the obstacles that are put in the way of black architects becoming a success need to be addressed.
Fisher Associates director Annette Fisher warned that Prince Charles’ speech would be mere tokenism without backing from the profession. She said: “There needs to be a two-pronged attack by both practices and institutions.” The Prince’s Foundation, a charity that supports urban regeneration, intends to work more closely with the Stephen Lawrence Trust, which was created to encourage young people from ethnic minorities to enter the profession.
The RIBA is planning to tour schools across the UK to speak directly to pupils as part of its initiative to encourage more ethnic minorities to study architecture.