Afope Carew

Afope Carew, Architectural Assistant & Master of Architecture Student at Newcastle University Newcastle upon Tyne.

What inspired you to want a life in Architecture and the creative industries?
Every other Saturday morning, my Dad and I used to wander into residential building sites in Lagos. I was very young then. Whilst this was totally unauthorised and retrospectively a safety hazard, I would say that is where my curiosity in the built environment began. Within my school career I also enjoyed engaging with the arts and crafts, technical drawing, making models and solving the trickiest math equations. All of this combined drew me to the architecture industry which mixes being creative with being pragmatic. I am increasingly interested in the socio-political aspects of architecture and welcoming the joys of creative liberation.

Who inspired you in finding your path to Architecture and the creative industries?
I entered the industry with few role models and little knowledge. Whilst I knew of the starchitects who designed magnificent buildings, their work never really resonated with me. It was until I found out about the likes of Diebedo Francis Kere and other spatial agents who challenge the construct of architecture. They are dedicated to ethical practice and carefully root their inventions in the localities they serve. They make architecture feel worthwhile and continually inspire me in my journey. Closer to home, my teachers and tutors from secondary through to university have also played a supportive and encouraging role, which I’m thankful for.

How you unlock obstacles and overcome bias in your work?
Overcoming bias is a daily challenge, especially because I am often the youngest and darkest woman in the room, if not only. I am still
understanding it all. On better days, I strive to bring my best self to my pursuits and remind myself to take up space wherever I am. I keep rooted by reaffirming my skills, previous achievements, and future ambitions to myself and others.

What improvements do you feel are required to promote effective change in the academic and working environment?
Coming from a siloed academic environment, I was shocked at how different architectural practice was. As such, I believe there should be a better link between both industry and academia. Firstly, course structures should encourage students to work collaboratively and in a multi-disciplinary way. This introduces real world parameters that can inspire problem solving skills and help with the unhealthy work culture architecture is often criticised for.

There needs to be more support for students from non-traditional backgrounds. This could be through early introduction in schools,
accessible scholarships, social networking opportunities, exhibitions, upskilling workshops and alternative learning models that appreciate our humanness. Lastly, workplaces should invest in early career professionals through mentoring, learning and development opportunities and give an ear to their experiences and novel ideas.

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