Siraaj Mitha

Profession: Architect/Director of Accelerate, London, United Kingdom

What inspired you to want a life in Architecture and the creative industries?:
Initially I just wanted to express my creativity. I faced a lot of family pressure to do something in medicine, and architecture was my creative outlet. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn and soon I discovered the amazing capacity architecture has to improve people’s lives. I figured that was something I really wanted to be a part of.

Who inspired you in finding your path to Architecture/Film and the creative industries?:
It sounds funny saying it now because my tastes have changed so much since, but initially it was Zaha Hadid who really inspired me during my very early years as an aspiring designer. The formal gestures of her buildings seem to describe a level of inbounded creativity which at the age of 17 or 18 is really appealing. Also her being an Iraqi female architect was of massive importance, because she came from a non white background like myself, and she showed us that we could be the ones leading in the field.

How you unlock obstacles and overcome bias in your work?:
I use it as fuel to create better, more exciting and more nourishing options than those on the table. Bias always suffers from a lack of imagination, diversity will always be a greater celebration of ideas, and instead of getting angry or upset by someone’s bias against me, I have learned to use those powerful emotions to make people see that diversity is a gift.

What improvements do you feel are required to promote effective change in the academic and working environment?:
We need to keep pushing for diversity but in unison we need to support those from diverse groups in education and practice. Without that support we risk losing them to other professions. Representation is just one piece of the puzzle. We need diverse groups to be elevated to positions where they have real decision making power. If we don’t have that then we have diversity only in name. We need to stop tokenism and celebrate the full spectrum of amazing teachers, designers and practitioners that are out there right now. Something that Neil and Homegrown plus do so well.

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