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RIBA London July People of the Month: BOLD

Since launching BOLD, Chun-Li Reid created a YouTube series called 'Cooking with an Architect', looking at one of the five senses in architecture; taste.

01 July 2024

Chun-Li Reid founded BOLD in 2022; the rise of this platform stemmed from her architectural background and love for learning and creating spaces that give the user an experience. The BOLD platform is about taking risks within the built environment industry.

BOLD focuses on exploring architecture for curious minds. That aims to challenge how people think when designing and interacting with spaces by exploring concepts and innovative ideas that allow the audience to view architecture differently.

Since launching BOLD, Chun-Li created a YouTube series called 'Cooking with an Architect'. Throughout the show, this taste element is represented by combining food and architecture while interviewing architects as they cook a dish that expresses 'what architecture means to them'—allowing the architects to engage with the food and design in another way.

RIBA London caught up with Chun-Li to find out more about their story.

How does your show 'Cooking with an Architect' highlight the importance of social sustainability in the way we design?

Throughout my career in architecture - and now my platform, BOLD - I’ve noticed that people are the ones who bring spaces to life. We create a presence in our environment with the hustle and bustle noises we hear every day and add culture and changes to spaces, in turn, adds character. It’s important to me that we focus on creating spaces that suit our lifestyles and how we live rather than creating space and trying to fit humans into them.

The pandemic made this even more evident to me; as we all can relate, our spaces become a place of work and play. Often, the quality and layout of spaces, made it difficult for many. Even during this time, our cities became void, silent and forgotten, due to no human interaction. Once we understand that people are the ones who make spaces what they are. We can design better cities for all, which encourages social sustainability.

Series three - which is coming out this year - is looking at social sustainability through the eyes of the unhoused in the UK.

Where we look at the development of our cities and do they cater to the well-being of a vulnerable community. Do we design to help improve the mental state of those going through a tough time? How can we make our cities successfully meet the needs of everyone?

Through these episodes, I have invited architects such as Chris Hildrey, James Furzer, Johnathan Harvey, and many more to discuss innovative design solutions for improving the lives of those who are unhoused and how we as architects/designers can come up with solutions for a better socially sustainable city.

Cooking with an Architect S2 with RIBA President Muyiwa Oki. Credits: Benjamin Perry

How are you trying to inspire others through your platform BOLD?

Through my show Cooking with an Architect, we aim to inspire others through one of the five senses; ‘taste’. Taste is a sense often left out of the design process. I use this sense by inviting architects to cook a dish that answers the question "what does architecture mean to you?" while discussing pressing matters faced in our communities today.

The aim is to get the industry to see architecture through a different lens and have an open conversation on what we can do to improve our environment/places to make them better. Especially the use of food and taste allows people to be open and bring that playful side to architecture, which is encouraged in the early stages of architecture studies. The show is to inspire the next and current generation of problem solvers.

Credit: Tobi Sobowale

What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome during your career?

Being afraid to start.

I spent many years wondering if what I had to offer the world would be good enough. Over time, I learnt there will always be an audience for what you have to give to this world, but you will never know until you start. In my case founding my platform BOLD was scary in the beginning. Now, however, that I am on the other side, I am happy I took that leap of faith and pushed past that barrier of fear.

I learnt something very important during this time is that: “fear is false evidence appearing to be real.” So go for it.

Tobi Sobowale | Cooking with an Architect S2

What do you think is the most important issue for architects to focus on right now?

Housing crisis and safe spaces for vulnerable communities; the majority of people are finding it hard to set roots within London. With social housing on a decline, communities suffer and places like these where they thrive are no longer existing. Embedded in these spaces are youth clubs and community centres for people to connect and feel safe.

As time passes - and communities are displaced due to private property development - it is the architect's responsibility to ensure important spaces like youth clubs and community centres don't get lost in the design process. In the UK millions of people have been experiencing chronic loneliness since the pandemic; showing the desperate need for prioritising places that foster wellbeing, connection, community, and health. Since then there have been only a few solutions to combat this.

Through BOLD we focus on finding ways to improve communities and individuals by bringing awareness to issues they might face. Last year we collaborated with a platform called Beyond the Box CIC for series two of Cooking with an Architect. We filmed the episodes in community kitchens and discovered for many individuals and families these places became the heart of communities after the pandemic, where they could connect and also get a hot meal.

With the influx of needs increasing within these communities, they required more support than just hot meals. Community kitchens became a listening ear and advisor in helping people find jobs, so, with community-designed spaces being much of an afterthought in the design process, community kitchens aren’t able to function to their full capacity. This is why as architects we need to focus on designing spaces for connection and stand for buildings that promote this.

Cooking with an Architect S2 with Yemi Aladerun and The Community Farm Kitchen Credit: Benjamin Perry

Where do you find most of your inspiration?

Most inspiration comes from those who find techniques and innovation to solve a problem. I love seeing how people can use their creativity to come up with ideas out of this world. And most of the time some of these ideas can be simple solutions but effective. This helps me to think about how I can use my creativity and knowledge in architecture to make spaces we experience better for others.

Cooking with an Architect S2 with Elly Ward Credit: Benjamin Perry

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