Every business can be a force for good and as a practice we have an ambition to do well by doing good.
But what does that really mean - Is it related to the architectural commissions that we undertake, is it how we engage and nurture our studio members, is it how we interact with the community in which we are based, or does it stretch to things much further afield?
As an emerging practice (why can’t you just say ‘new’ anymore!) but one with a wealth of past experience/historical baggage we’ve been able to really sit down and set out our stance and approach from the beginning to social responsibility. When the studio was established in early 2018 we set out our guiding principles, our message to the outside world about what our core values are (take a look on our website www.wr-ap.com/info ). As always, values/principles are overarching, somewhat generic. At the heart of ours sits an innate willingness to be architects that do things differently, that do things for a wider audience than ourselves.
We’re already doing several things as a studio that reflects our social conscious (again take a look on our website www.wr-ap.com/social ). But how do we quantify our principles, how do we measure our social impact and how can we establish if we are delivering on the things that we say we’re doing. This is when you need a social strategy – a way of planning and recording the things that matter most to you.
To help us to navigate and establish our long term social goals we’ve been lucky enough to gain a place on The Heart of The City foundation programme. It’s a fantastic organisation that helps businesses to focus on their social impact for all the right reasons.
The first top tip we’ve received from the programme has been for us to set out clear and distinct areas for us to focus on. These areas could include: Charity support/Fundraising, Staff Wellbeing, Pro Bona work, or Volunteering, etc. We’ll shortly be selecting the areas (we might end up calling them our wr-ap social pillars) that we want to focus on and then we’ll set about establishing a programme of events aligned to these areas throughout 2020.
Our aim is for a member of the studio to be responsible for each of the Pillars to ensure that it is continually shaped and monitored, this also gives the studio members the opportunity to engage with and influence something within the studio that isn’t related to architecture per se.
As architects many of us already believe that we are undertaking a lot of social good just by working on the commissions that we do, especially if these are in the public sector. What we have started to establish with the things that we are already doing as a studio and with the guidance of The Heart of The City, is there is so much more for us to engage with and have an impact on. In our experience to date, our social agenda not only gives the studio a real purpose but it is also becoming a driving force for us doing well!