Back to Content

LSA announces Thomas Aquilina as inaugural Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation Fellow

The LSA is excited to announce the appointment of Thomas Aquilina as the inaugural Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation Fellow.

The London School of Architecture has appointed Thomas Aquilina as its inaugural Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation Fellow through the generous donation of the Foundation in September 2021 under the instigation of founding LSA Vice-Chair Elsie Owusu OBE and the RIBA, marking another significant step in the LSA’s commitment to widening access and participation in architectural education. 


Through this Fellowship, Thomas is committed to researching means of tackling of historic and current underrepresentation of black and other racialised groups in the architecture profession. A tutor in Critical Practice and Design History at the LSA, Thomas is a registered architect and educator dedicated to building communities of radical thought and progressive practice. He is a co-director of the New Architecture Writers programme and a co-founder of the publishing collective Afterparti. Thomas is also investigating local understandings of spatial justice in London as a Design Researcher in Residence at the Design Museum. As a past recipient of the Stephen Lawrence Architecture bursary, Thomas’ trajectory in architecture is one indebted to Stephen’s legacy. Under the fellowship, Thomas looks to:

  • Lead conversations at the LSA around curriculum reform, in particular in relation to decoloniality, decarbonisation and destandardisation.
  • Work on delivering on the strategic priorities contained in the LSA’s ambitious Access and Participation Plan, which seeks to increase the number of Black and Asian students in its cohorts, and students from low-income and low-participation backgrounds.
  • Cultivate and nurture relationships with local schools, devising an ambitious ‘Part 0’ outreach programme.
  • Serve as a visible role model and mentor within to the school to underrepresented racialised groups.

The LSA once again wishes to express its gratitude to the RIBA, Elsie Owusu and the vision of Baroness Lawrence for enabling such pioneering research and action at the LSA and subsequently the wider architectural community.


LSA Stephen Lawrence Foundation Fellow, Thomas Aquilina, said:

At this exciting time of new directorship for The LSA, I want to support the work of building an architecture school that is attune to the value of equitable and radical perspectives.”


Baroness Doreen Lawrence said:

I am pleased to see that the LSA has appointed Thomas Aquilina to lead on this ambitious plan in researching decoloniality in architecture. For too long access to the profession of architecture was limited and challenging for those from underrepresented groups, this will be a great asset in widening participation for all.


London School of Architecture Head of School and CEO, Dr Neal Shasore, said:

It is fantastic that, thanks to this donation, we have been able to offer this new Fellowship. In an intensely competitive field, Thomas’s vision of what we could achieve was truly inspiring. I am looking forward to working closely with him over the coming year, ensuring the LSA leads the conversation around decoloniality and architectural education.”


About the London School of Architecture:


The London School of Architecture (LSA) is an independent higher education provider based in London. It is England’s first independent school of architecture since 1847 and was conceived in 2011 as a school for the 21st-century, where students combine practice-based work experience with academic study. In academic year 2021-22 the LSA welcomed its largest ever cohort of 73 students into its new premises on 6 Orsman Road. One of the School’s foundational purposes is to broaden access to architectural education by removing barriers as well as support wider diversity and access for students from under-represented backgrounds. In our ambitious Access and Participation Plan 2021/21-2024/25 agreed with the Office for Students, one of our two prime targets is to increase the proportion of BAME students to form a baseline of 20% to 30% by the academic year 2024-25. Moreover, we acknowledge the significant structural barriers to attainment and progression within architectural education and practice. As a school that prides itself on its close alignment with practice, we look forward to working with our Practice Network to facilitate progression by BAME architects in their professional contexts.


About the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation:


The Foundation, established amid unprecedented growing global awareness of racial inequality, and exists to inspire a more equal, inclusive society, and to foster opportunities for marginalised young people in the UK. The Foundation is the home of Stephen Lawrence’s legacy and has education at its core, focusing on three areas: Classrooms, Community and Careers.


The Foundation is developing programmes and activities that run 365 days a year, with the 22nd April as a focal point to recognise and celebrate the progress made.


Stephen’s Story:


Stephen’s story is both challenging and inspirational. He was a normal young person who made the most of everyday opportunities. Although his life was short, Stephen provides a positive role model of a life well lived. Stephen Lawrence was born and grew up in south-east London, where he lived with his parents Neville and Doreen, his brother Stuart and sister Georgina. Like most young people, he juggled an active social life, school work, family commitments, and part-time employment. But he also had ambitions to use his talent for maths, art, and design to become an architect, and wanted to have a positive impact on his community. Tragically, his dream of becoming an architect was never realised. On 22 April 1993, at the age of just 18, Stephen was murdered in an unprovoked racist attack. He didn’t know his killers and his killers didn’t know him. After the initial police investigation, five suspects were arrested but not convicted. A public inquiry into the handling of Stephen’s case was held in 1998, leading to the publication of the Macpherson Report, which has been called ‘one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain’. It led to profound cultural changes in attitudes to racism, to the law and to police practice. It also paved the way for a greater understanding of discrimination of all forms and new equalities legislation.


About the Royal Institute of British Architects:


The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. The RIBA is working to ensure that the architecture sector and the wider construction industry is representative of the communities and societies its members serve. Currently, there are barriers to entry and progression in the profession, and this particularly impacts individuals from underrepresented groups. Led by Director of Inclusion and Diversity, Marsha Ramroop, and guided by our Expert Advisory Group, Architects for Change, the RIBA is committed to creating a more diverse and inclusive profession. The RIBA’s work to do this will be underpinned by the Cultural Intelligence (CQ) framework of inclusive behaviours.