A centre of excellence for architecture and the built environment commemorating black race-hate victim Stephen Lawrence is to be built in southeast London, writes Tim Greenhalgh.
The construction of the Stephen Lawrence Technocentre in Deptford will go ahead after the announcement last week that the Millennium Commission would contribute £4.4 million towards the £9.2 million capital cost of the project. The Arts Council of England will provide £1 million and the London Development Agency has been approached for funding.
The centre, designed by Timothy Associates, has received support from Prince Charles, prime minister Tony Blair, the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Trades Union Congress.
Mr Lawrence had wanted to become an architect and spent time working at the London-based company. The project was conceived by Arthur Timothy, a black architect, who worked closely with Mr Lawrence during his work experience and was commissioned by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust to work on the project. The trust was established in 1998 to create a lasting memorial to Mr Lawrence, who died after being stabbed by white youths in 1993.
The centre will continue the trust's vision, which focuses on education as a way out of disadvantage and deprivation. The facility will offer work stations, study spaces, learning resources, evening access, light refreshments and nursery provision.
"The Stephen Lawrence Technocentre will be a great asset to the continuing education of the local community and to the architectural industry as a whole," said Erica Timothy, director of Timothy Associates. "We were very pleased to be asked to head the design team, and this confirmation of funding will guarantee the realisation of this project."
Central to the concept is the provision of architectural and design courses for young people from black and other ethnic minority groups who are heavily under-represented in this area. It is intended that the core market for the courses will be those individuals who, because of personal circumstance, do not have the conventional educational qualifications to enter the profession at even its most junior level or who have the qualifications but who are under-represented.
Mr Blair said: "I was very interested to hear about the trust's plans for this project. I welcome initiatives that seek to address the often complex issues around the educational achievement of young people.
"Education and the eradication of inequality in educational attainment are key priorities for the government, which is determined that all pupils, regardless of ethnicity or background, have the same life chances. All young people should have the opportunity to gain the skills they will need to achieve their life goals."
Timothy Associates led a team of consultants in preparing a design using software donated by Revit Technology.
Construction of the technocentre is scheduled to begin at the end of the year.
- In the online version of this story we have corrected an error which appeared in the printed version.