In my role as a Mentor for both the RIBA and the Company of Architects I found myself looking through the list of AJ100 Architects over the weekend. It was interesting to see just how many were represented by the Architects Company. The Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects (to give it it’s full name) is a modern Livery Company. The Company promotes quality architecture in the City of London and the architectural profession globally; it supports education through awards and prizes as well as a range of charities related to the City. It was granted Livery status in 1988, received the Royal Charter in 2019 and will move into its new home of Temple Bar in Paternoster Square in 2021. This will see an increase in activity lectures, events, breakfast and lunch meetings including vital CPD in essential topics such as climate change, sustainability, insurance, ethics, social mobility and diversity.

About half of the AJ100 are represented by the Company of Architects and over half of the top ten. Representatives from these practices range from apprentices and students to Partners and Founders and include the following;- AHMM, Allies & Morrison, Farrells, Foster & Partners, Gensler, Grimshaw, Hopkins, KPF, Make, RSHP and Zaha Hadid Architects. It is also important to note that the Company is representative of the whole range of the profession including sole trader architects, teachers, academics, researchers, writers, managers and associated professionals.

The key activities of the Company of Architects are built on the Foundations of the original Livery Companies dating back to the Fishmongers’ Company, granted their charter in 1272 whilst always modernising continuing hundreds of years of advancement and improvement on the practices and working of the City’s trades. It is a testament to the Companies and their Masters to remain relevant for over 700 years. Anyone who has watched the Netflix series “The Crown” will understand the tensions of retaining historic traditions in a rapidly changing society.

In the modern world the Company has a key role in the global architecture community because the concerns of the City’s architects mirror those world wide. Issues of urbanisation, sustainability ethics climate change and the importance of architectural thinking in planning are worldwide concerns and UK architects can play a leading role in the debate .We aim therefore to assist the Lord Mayor’s aim to ensure the City of London enhances its reputation as a global hub. During his Mayoral year, Alderman Russell is promoting his initiative ‘Global UK – Trade, Innovation & Culture’ agenda which builds on the current Lord Mayor’s theme of ‘Shaping Tomorrow’s City Today’, focusing on connecting communities through trade, innovation and culture. The programme has three key aspects: growing global trade and investment, championing innovation, and promoting a rich and vibrant cultural and creative economy of which Architecture plays an important role. I know from experience how valued UK Architects and Engineers are valued all over the world from the heritage of Paxton and Brunel to the modern day brilliance of Fosters and Rogers and the current crop of innovators.

But just as important as these global aims is the Company’s work close to home. The Guilds were established to share best practice and new ideas, to help train and educate and to help charitable giving amongst their colleagues. As a passionate enthusiast of social mobility and sharing of knowledge I am pleased that the Company of Architects is taking a lead on these concerns within the profession. The current Master Valerie Owen Le Vaillant has made the promotion of social mobility through Apprenticeships the major focus of her leadership role and has established a Future Minds group led by Nicholas Naidu. One of the greatest opportunities for students or young architects becoming involved in the Company is the opportunity for mentoring. It is a great opportunity. You never know who you might sit next to at an event or Dinner and invariably they are ready and willing to help and advise. I myself have had very informative informal discussions from several architects I have respected throughout my career including Richard Saxon and Ian Ritchie. There is always much to learn.

My own route to Architecture is explained in a ten minute video on the Company of Architects youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VR09YvbpVk and there are other videos showing the diverse backgrounds of some other members.

For more information on the Company of Architects visit the website www.architectscompany.net