"As Designers of The Built Environment,
We Need to do More"
We at Apaja Collective have followed recent international and Finnish demonstrations against police violence and structural racism that have taken place after the killing of George Floyd. Although forms of racism differ across the world, various studies have shown that people of African descent and other racial minorities in Finland continue to experience different barriers in their life due to discrimination. We thank the activists and participants in the demonstrations for their important work in highlighting the problems of structural racism in Finland.
As architects interested in the relationship between people and the built environment, we feel it is crucial to talk about how people’s different backgrounds affect their experiences in urban spaces, as well as their ability to access high quality services and build the lives they desire in the urban environment.
As a collective, we want to do more work towards an inclusive and safe urban environment for all, by paying special attention to the position of racialised groups in Finnish society. Anti-racist work in our field can mean many different things, from adhering to the principles of inclusive urban planning to creating a better work culture for our colleagues belonging to minorities. We wish to continuously develop these methods as our understanding of different lived realities grows.
Listed below are the goals of Apaja Collective, that we will work towards in all our future projects, from discussion events to art installations. We have also compiled a list of resources that have helped us better understand racism in Finland, as well as the consequences of racism on the built environment around the world. We wish to particularly thank the racialised activists who have created this important learning material.
We are privileged due to our background, education and professional status, and are sure to make mistakes in approaching an issue that has so far rarely featured in our work. We thank our collaborators and followers for their understanding and patience, and are grateful to receive tips on anti-racist architectural and urban design, as well as feedback on our work through email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apaja Collective’s goals:
To listen to racialised people’s thoughts and preferences about their environment.
To actively follow research and experiences of racism in Finland, and develop tools to enable just and equitable city planning.
To increase collaboration with anti-racist actors, especially with organisations run by racialised people.
To dismantle our own preconceptions, for example in discussions about Finns and Finnish society. Design work involves making assumptions about the end users of spaces. However, it is crucial that these assumptions are not discriminatory.
To highlight the importance of reducing urban inequality in our networks.
To encourage discussions about a work culture in our field that is more equitable for everyone.
To produce more content in languages other than Finnish.
About racism in Finland in general (mostly in Finnish):
Kuinka hyödynnän valkoista etuoikeuttani muiden hyväksi? (2020)
Lähteitä antirasistisen toiminnan tueksi (2020)
Professori Suvi Keskinen: "Rasismia ei ole Suomessa otettu vakavasti" (2020)
Rasismin vaarallisin muoto on rakenteellinen ja näin se vaikuttaa Suomessa – huono-osaisuus voi kasautua läpi elämän (2020)
Report of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman: Racism and discrimination - everyday experiences for People of African descent in Finland (2020)
Anti-racism and architecture:
Julkiset tilat ovat turvattomia ei-valkoisille - Femma Planning (2020)
‘Safe Streets’ are not Safe for Black Lives - CityLab (2020)
Architecture Must Recognize the Debate Around Race and Gender - ArchDaily (2020)
Resource Guides on Antiracism and Design - Tu White School of Architecture (2020)