The first public event of New Architecture Writers, a BAME-only architectural criticism project


Founded in 2017, New Architecture Writers is a free year-long writing course which aims to make a positive contribution to the culture and diversity of design criticism in the UK. Over the last year nine students have engaged in a demanding programme of workshops, tours, lectures and written exercises alongside their other work and studies.

At this public event, entitled The Time for Failure is Now, hosted by the RCA School of Architecture summer exhibition, members of the project will conduct expansive, in-depth interviews with three leading practitioners in architecture and architectural research. Indy Johar, Danna Walker and Danah Abdullah will be in conversation with NAW members exploring their work and issues connected to race, identity, design equity, the right to the city and more in response to an over-arching theme of failure.

The interviews will be concluded with a panel discussion including members of the NAW board of trustees chaired by Dean of the RCA School of Architecture and curator of the 2019 Sharjah Triennale, Adrian Lahoud.

The event will be followed by a reception to mark the programme’s first year of operation and celebrate the first cohort of students who will complete the course later in autumn.

The Time For Failure Is Now!

NAW seeks to engage with the topic of failure, and what it can mean for Architects, Designers and Urban Strategists. With a panel of invited guests NAW intend to delve into the widely held notion that failure is a part of success – a moment of opportunity, rather than despondency.

Given the recent failings within Government to address the needs and concerns of minority communities and those disadvantaged within our society, NAW want to question whether politicians are learning lessons from the recent events and explore practical ways of how we can put failure to work in our practice in a world that is highly critical, and constantly watching.


Indy Johar is an architect, co-founder of 00 and a Senior Innovation Associate with the Young Foundation and Visiting Professor at the University of Sheffield. He founded Dark Matter Labs who design institutional infrastructure and is a sought-after commentator, advisor and provocateur the world over.

Danah Abdulla is an educator, designer and researcher based in London. Her research interests include new narratives and practices in design that push the disciplinary boundaries and definitions of the discipline. She is particularly focused on decolonising design, possibilities of design education, design culture(s) with a focus on the Arab region, the politics of design, publishing, and critical views of social design practices.

Danna Walker is Founder of social enterprise Built By Us, serves currently as a board member of Public Practice and is a Trustee of Hub Brixton. She is a former Chair of Architects for Change and Trustee for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. She serves as an elected board member of the Architects Registration Board.


Adrian Lahoud (chair) is Dean of the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art and curator of the 2019 Sharjah Triennale. He is a widely published author and educator, regularly lecturing and exhibiting internationally.  Previously he has been Director of the MA programme at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths University, a studio master at the Architectural Association and Director of the Urban Design MArch at the Bartlett.

Farshid Moussavi is an international architect and Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University. She has written extensively on ornament, form and style in her Function Books series and was co-founder of Foreign Office Architects.

David Ogunmuyiwa is an architect, lecturer and writer. He was formerly a local authority housing officer and is now is director of London-based practice, ArchitectureDoingPlace. He a Design Advocate for the Mayor of London and teaches at Portsmouth University, Central Saint Martins and The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.


Date, time and location

4pm, Saturday 30th of June
Royal College of Art Summer Exhibition
The Workshop
26 Lambeth High St
London SE1 7AG


4pm Welcome
4.10pm Introduction by Tara Okeke and Nile Bridgeman
4.20pm Danna Walker Interview with Samson Famusan and Shukri Sultan
4.50pm Danah Abdullah interview with Marwa El Mubark and Josh Fenton
5.20pm Break
5.40pm Indy Johar Interview with Aoi Phillips and Siufan Adey
6.10pm Panel discussion chaired by Adrian Lahoud
7pm Reception


Tickets are available here. Places are free but limited.