Free New Architecture Writers course opens to aspiring design journalists from racial minorities

A new education programme has launched in London to encourage young people who are black or minority ethnic to embark on careers in architecture and design journalism.

Initiated by Dezeen columnist Phineas Harper and Architectural Review journalist Tom Wilkinson, New Architecture Writers (NAW) is a free programme that aims to equip aspiring critics with basic journalism skills and contacts in the industry.

It focuses on BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) young people – who Harper claims are hugely underrepresented in design journalism and criticism.

"I am sincerely hoping the project can make a meaningful difference to the landscape of architecture writing," he said.

"Design writing is a small and tough industry, but it's a core part of wider architectural culture," he explained. "All the barriers which block black and minority ethnic young from progressing in architectural practice are multiplied in the world of publishing."

The course is supported by a board that includes architect Farshid MoussaviRoyal College of Art dean Adrian Lahoud, architect and mayoral advisor David Ogunmuyiwa, architect and novelist Lesley Lokko, and curator and educator Shumi Bose.

Lahoud described the initiative as "an important step forward" for the architecture industry.

"Conversations about gender are becoming more and more common, but unfortunately it's still nigh on impossible to have a serious conversation about race, and especially racial prejudice," he said.

"European and North American architecture schools, architectural institutions, and architectural practices in no way reflect the voices of the people in cities that they are located in, and to which they claim to serve. Architecture remains predominantly white, stubbornly so."

Applications for the programme are now open, and applicants have until 1 November 2017 to register their interest.

The course will consist of evening workshops, talks and writing briefs, spread out over the course of one year. Participants will also be offered one-to-one mentoring sessions with experienced writers and journalists.

Architecture Foundation director Ellis Woodman, Guardian architecture critic Oliver Wainwright and BBC broadcaster Tom Dyckhoff are among the names listed on the programme so far.

"NAW is a tiny drop in a big ocean, but we have an amazing board of trustees and a stellar line-up of contributors in the mix already," added Harper.