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RIBA North West: [Moment]um Collective takeover

North West based student group [Moment]um Collective are committed to fighting for a more inclusive and diverse profession. In this blog, group member Quadri Shogunle-Aregbesola explains why.

04 February 2022

Student group [Moment]um Collective, based in the North West of England, are committed to fighting for a more inclusive and diverse profession.

As part of this, this February they are running a month-long project – working with fellow students to map significant spaces used by underrepresented racialised groups in the North West region through an architectural research lens.

In addition to running a series of workshops (register here via Eventbrite), we’ve invited them to take-over RIBA North West’s Instagram to share updates and findings with members.

In this blog, group member Quadri Shogunle-Aregbesola explains why the group is fighting for a more inclusive and diverse profession.

Quadri Shogunle-Aregbesola

Let’s call it how it is - architecture is systematically a racist, classist profession, with a sprinkle of unfair gender dynamics too. It’s not too surprising, considering architecture stereotypically has always been seen as dining at a table dominated by white, middle-class males. Only the privileged can truly enjoy the feast of this profession. That, however, is where the problem lies.

Beginning with systematic racism - from academia, to taking the first steps upon graduation, to being in the actual profession - the problem seems to be becoming increasingly insidious at every level, unless you’re from a white background. Taking a bottom-up approach, universities need to take heed of their student makeup, and make changes to their initial entrance policies. There are many other schools of specialisms that have interview panels diverse enough to resonate with candidates from a range of ethnic backgrounds. There is no reason architecture cannot do the same. We could talk forever about the under-representation of racialised groups in academia, but for now I suppose we should focus on the positives: for example, Blueprint for all (formerly the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust) to this day continues to award bursaries to students and continues to support many more through its Building Futures Programme. That being said, this topic should never be avoided; the ‘elephant in the room’ must always be tackled, lest it be left to fester and become an uncontrollable taboo in the field. To finish off this topic with a comment on the actual profession; under-representation in the industry needs to be tackled as soon as possible. “We hire based on merit” is no longer good enough, not when there is an arrogant disregard of the problems faced by underrepresented racialised groups in the industry. Architects have a way of saying a whole lot of something, without saying anything at all. Actions speak louder than words.

Next, we have structural classism. In my case, and I’m sure that of many others always feeling the threat of financial precarity, I knew my parents could not help me pay for university, and that I had to be proactive in earning my own money. However, as my studies became more and more sophisticated, so increased the financial demands: with things such as field trips, large-format printing and modelling materials adding significant pressure. On top of that, the cost of living (especially away from home) and personal expenses meant that I had come close to exceeding the one-off maintenance loan I was given. Moreover, with recent increases in degree costs, the financial pressures of studying architecture have also increased- therefore making it more and more inaccessible to working class students like myself. As such, not only have I faced hurdles as a student, but the fact that I have had to be the recipient of maximum loans over the course of my higher education (therefore subjecting myself to staggering interest rates), also means that I will continue at a disadvantage even after my inauguration into the architecture profession. Ultimately, these financial pressures have elucidated why there may be such a structural lack of diversity in the field. Once again, if you consider that as the poorest demographic, Black students may be unable to afford this degree, the fact that only 1% of architects in the UK are Black, is suddenly not so surprising. Although the RIBA cannot influence tuition fees, in their 2021 Study Well Guide, they acknowledge this: "Unsurprisingly, a lack of money and the unfairness in students’ unequal ability to pay are a cause of worry and frustration that, rolled up with the other stresses of the course, can impact mental wellbeing.” I just barely made it to graduation and was fortunate enough to have landed a job soon afterwards. However, for others, I am afraid that if the undue financial pressures placed on them at this vital stage are not somehow mitigated, they may not be able to fulfil their potential.

All the aforementioned was the reason for the birth of the [Moment]um Collective. We are a group of students from Schools of Architecture in the North, who are fighting for diversity and change within the profession. The group realises that it is important to ignore the pervasive systems built on abhorrent ideals of white supremacy, while at the same time claiming the titles of leaders and educators of our future generations of students and young professionals. As the co-founders of this group, we realise that this will not be resolved in our tenure, but we’ve achieved the most vital phase, getting the ball rolling. We can, must, and will do better.

Author - Quadri Shogunle-Aregbesola - member of [Moment]um Collective.

The RIBA remains committed to working to ensure that the architecture sector and the wider construction industry is representative of the communities and societies we serve. The barriers to entry and progression in the profession particularly impact individuals from underrepresented groups, and this must change.

Introspection is key – and under the leadership of our Director of Inclusion & Diversity, Marsha Ramroop, we are listening to underrepresented groups with lived experience and developing a strategy that ensures we can create and monitor meaningful and targeted changes.

Find out more about the actions we have been taking in our 2021 Inclusion & Diversity Action Plan.

For further insight and information, you can also visit our RIBA Radio content – podcasts and videos that focus on promoting diversity and inclusion within the architecture profession. Some of the podcasts particularly relevant to the points raised by Quadri, can be found below:


If you’d like to get in touch directly with our diversity and inclusion team, please email:

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