Southwark Council: Architects’ framework shortlisted for top diversity award

23 March 2022

Southwark Council’s extensive work to increase diversity within its architects’ framework has been recognised with a nomination for the Diversity and Inclusion category of the prestigious LGC Awards 2022.

Working in partnership with LHC, the ADS 1.1 framework was designed to provide the council with access to a broader and more diverse range of architectural companies who would be responsible for designing the social housing and public realm of the future.

Its development followed criticism about a lack of diversity within the appointed companies on ADS1. This coincided with global protests and anti-racist activism in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

The council and LHC created an extension to the framework (ADS1.1) which required all firms to explain how they addressed equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the profession through their work.

With increased engagement during the procurement stage and scoring focused on EDI-based criteria, the result was that seven Black-led architects practices, including four Black, female-led practices, were appointed who demonstrated extraordinary design talent and a deep understanding of community.

This clear emphasis on equality provided the catalyst for Southwark Stands Together, launched by the council in response to the injustice and racism experienced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. This included addressing the barriers to bidding for public sector work, as highlighted by the original ADS1 framework. It also led to practices on the existing ADS1 panel raising their own diversity and inclusion requirements.

Cllr Helen Dennis, Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency & Sustainable Development, said: “We are delighted to be among the top councils in the diversity category for this year's awards amid a record number of entries from a record number of organisations. The people designing our new council homes and public spaces must reflect the people who make up our community. Our first framework fell short, but we were determined to do better. We are really proud of our work with LHC which has increased the number of Black and Asian-led practices promoted by our architects' framework.

“Our success shows what is possible when we place equality at the heart of everything we do. This is the principle that guides us as a council as we tackle structural racism through Southwark Stands Together. We know we still have a way to go, but positive change has a powerful ripple effect. Aspiring architects from our Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities can look to the practices helping make Southwark a fairer place to live and see that great careers in architecture can provide for them too."

Shona Snow, Regional Strategy Manager London & South East at LHC, added: “We worked very hard with Southwark Council, the practices appointed to the original framework and the wider industry to develop greater understanding into this area so that we could adapt the framework and increase opportunities for a wider and more diverse pool of architects.

“It was this collaborative approach, bringing together a broad range of people and perspectives, that enabled us to take a fresh look and consider new ways of engaging with practices and judging their work.

“We believe that this represents a significant step forward. The success of ADS1.1 has impacted other frameworks, including our new Multi-Disciplinary Consultancy framework. Our ambition is to transform procurement and bring new voices forward for public sector projects.”

Organised by the Local Government Chronicle, the awards celebrate the best and most innovative of councils’ work across the country in a number of different categories. Southwark’s support for businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic has also been shortlisted for the Economic Support category.

Page last updated: 23 March 2022