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Vicky Richardson awarded RIBA Honorary Fellowship

Vicky Richardson awarded RIBA Honorary Fellowship Vicky Richardson, Director, Architecture Design Fashion, at the RIBA Awards February 2015 © Paul J Cochrane

Vicky Richardson, Director, Architecture Design Fashion, at the RIBA Awards February 2015 © Paul J Cochrane

4 February 2015

Each year, the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Honorary Fellowship is awarded to a select handful of figures who have made a significant contribution to architecture. This year, our very own Director of Architecture Design Fashion, Vicky Richardson, received the prestigious award. We took this opportunity to steal a minute of her time to ask about her thoughts on architecture and its future.

Firstly, congratulations – it’s a fantastic accolade. What does the RIBA Fellowship mean to you?

Thank you. I’m really proud to be part an institute that dates back to 1834, which was set up to show that being an architect is more than just a job. RIBA’s 40,000 members sign up to the goal of advancing the discipline of architecture for the benefit of civic society. Architecture is arguably the art-form that affects people on the most fundamental level. RIBA also has the best architectural drawings collection in the world and a fantastic library, which I love visiting.

A lot of your work as director of ADF is about making architecture – and fashion and design – more inclusive and accessible to a wider audience, how are you doing this and why do you think this is important?

Architecture is right in front of us already – it’s buildings we all live and work in. I think there is a job to be done to put forward compelling alternative ideas, and to highlight the most imaginative and critical work going on around the world. There shouldn’t be a division between architects and the rest of the public – we can all benefit from understanding how architecture is made and how it can transform the world. I wouldn’t underestimate how opinionated and well-informed the public is about architecture!

Your Fellowship reflects your contribution to architecture what do you think your contribution has been so far and what kind of change would you like to effect or inspire? 

 I started my career as an architectural journalist and editor. I saw my role then as being about asking questions and challenging perceptions. In a way that’s what I’ve continued to do at the British Council, it’s just that the debate happens at a global level and cuts across national and cultural boundaries. I think by understanding architecture, we can also get a better understanding of the world – and the more people who are involved in that project the clearer and more honest our ideas will be.

The RIBA was set up to "champion better architecture" – what would you like to see improve in architecture within your lifetime?

"Good architecture" is an elusive phrase. I’d like to see architects – particularly British ones – become more ambitious in their attitude to the future. Architecture has the potential to imagine a completely different future, but there aren’t enough architects taking up that challenge at the moment.