Sumita Singha

Chartered Architect, London, United Kingdom

What inspired you to want a life in Architecture and the creative industries?:
Architecture appears to be a mixture of art and science, so it felt an ideal choice for me as loved both subjects. Also, as I lived in one room in New Delhi with my parents and two sisters, sleeping on the table that was used for my studies and dining, space use and design of multifunctional furniture became part of my life since childhood. In my native village and the city, I saw people suffering from lack of suitable homes. In fact, my first job was documenting the lives of the poor and how they lived.

Who inspired you in finding your path to Architecture/Film and the creative industries?:
No one did. No one in my family knew what an architect did. Later in the school, I found inspirational role models such as Revathi and Vasant Kamath, Nalini Thakur, and Arundhati Roy, whose work and ideas helped me in mould my design intentions.

How you unlock obstacles and overcome bias in your work?:
Coming to the UK, I was shocked by the prejudice against foreigners and women. I became Chair of women in architecture in 1999 and then set up RIBA’s equality forum, Architects for Change. Since then, I have continued to write, speak and advocate on behalf of women and other minorities. I have written two books about women in architecture, the latest one being Thrive: a field guide for women in architecture, RIBA publishing, 2023.

What improvements do you feel are required to promote effective change in the academic and working environment?:
There must be more support for women and minorities during education and an understanding of employment rights must be part of their education.  Financial planning, work life balance and support for mental health must become essential part of education- one cannot survive the tough world of architecture with those tools. I’m on the Board of Architects Benevolent society, which provides help for architects and students, including those who are refugees and asylum seekers.

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