Plan B was always the Plan A

Two of our recent graduates have featured in a RIBA Journal article exploring the ways students and young architects are adapting to Covid disruption. Lisa Lucy Gakunga and Andre-Donovan N Reid, who met while studying at Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, spoke to the publication about the unconventional paths their careers have taken and how for them ‘plan B was always the plan A’. 

Lisa Lucy Gakunga and Andre-Donovan N Reid

Since graduating, they have created, curated and been instrumental in a number of projects including a creative workspace in Aston, a pop-up store in central Birmingham showcasing jewellery and art work, and consulting on community projects. These initiatives were developed soon after Andre completed his studies on our BA (Hons) Architecture programme and Lisa on MArch Architecture.

The pair now work under the name Kiondo, which they describe as a community-led design research studio that aids property developers, local authorities and social organisations to build places to live and work. Andre describes it as an outlet “to get back to design, creating bespoke joinery, working with underserved people”.

Exterior of Brookes Works in Walsall, the site of Kiondo’s planned community hub and creative studios.

Now based in Walsall, Lisa and Andre plan to create a community hub in a disused former 19th century pub. They are currently focused on fundraising and engaging the local community in order to breathe new life into the building and eventually provide creative studios and a place for local residents “to convene and explore”. Find out more about their project and fundraising efforts here.

Senior lecturer, Alessandro Columbano is quoted in the article, describing their more alternative approach: “Andre and Lisa have shown that they always knew their education was to help create positive change in society, and not just for their career prospects. They had a level of curiosity and unorthodoxy in the work that meant they were considering architecture as a social mechanism to exchange and discuss ideas rather than just the design of a building. In a way, this, combined with the ability of getting others to join their collective vision, enables them to demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit to go with their design ambitions”.

Find out more about our BA (Hons) Architecture course