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On the 2nd June 2023 we'd raised £4,030 with 77 supporters in 28 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.
Hey everyone, I have just been accepted onto TU Delft's two year MSc Architecture course in the Netherlands which will cost £60,000.
by Andre Deen-Swaray in London, Greater London, United Kingdom
On the 2nd June 2023 we'd raised £4,030 with 77 supporters in 28 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.
Welcome to my Campaign: #roadtoTUDelft
My name is André Deen-Swaray, and I have just been offered a place at TU Delft’s prestigious architecture school in The Netherlands to study the two-year MSc Architecture course as part of my seven-year journey in becoming an architect. My pursuit of becoming an architect stems from my working class and multicultural upbringing in Hackney, East London which instilled deep-rooted values around advancing social mobility and tackling social injustices. Such issues I vehemently believe can be addressed through architectural theories and their sustainable application to the built environment.
My reason for crowdfunding is due to me being a British Citizen, whereby as a result of Brexit (January 2021), I am no longer a citizen of EU nor the EEA. Consequently I am to be charged the increased amount being £60,000 (covering the two years which accounts for tuition fees, living costs, residence permit/ visa and housing fees (please refer to table at the end of the page for full financial breakdown). As no applicable scholarships are available from the UK (such as RIBA or various Foundations) nor are there Dutch scholarships which are open for application I have opted to fundraise the full amount within 4 weeks to ensure that I have sufficient funding for this MSc course by the 1st of July.
My Affinity to Architecture and the Course
I am aiming to attend BKTU Delft from September 2023, which is one of the top architecture schools in the world (Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, 2023) whom in which enable their students to use research and architectural theories as a tool to interrogate and address our worldly issues. In addition to their specialisations and high calibre, such a prestigious platform permits and challenges me to address issues in which I have faced growing up in inner city London. Their specialisations including the ‘architecture and dwelling’ and ‘city of the future’ studios enables me in seeking innovation around the socioeconomic and architectural issues I experienced including poor and neglected (council) housing, as a result of marginalisation, leading to increased crime, poverty, illnesses, and a feeling of generational inferiority to wider society.
I believe that through this course, I can begin to uncover how our built environment serves and shapes our diverse qualities. Including ethnicity, gender, and social statuses which provides an opportunity to analyse existing inhibitions as an opportunity for growth and ubiquitous access to an improved quality of life, especially for those who are discriminated. This currently makes me question who has access to certain spaces and how this may allow someone and/ or a community to thrive in a sustainable manner to achieve a circular economy beyond its physical presence?
With BKTU Delft’s specialisation in sustainability, it will also challenge my perceptions of architectural responses to climate change in our fluid urban and vulnerable rural realms. Whether through regenerative architecture, Passive Haus standards or the use of less carbon intensive materials I also intend to seek ways of improving our connection with the built environment and nature. I intend to use this knowledge to discover how to autonomise community development and architectural tools to research and implement independence in LEDC’s whose citizens are more so affected by climate change as per their traditions and culture.
Overview of My Architectural Journey
Born in Hackney, East London I was raised by my single mother and partially by my late Vincentian grandmother. Both incredibly strong-willed and loving individuals who were big on discipline, encouraging me to be the ‘head and not the tail,’ and always willing to help others when they are in need. My grandmother’s role being the matriarch of our family instilled a sense of Christian values of love and serving others within my family. Such an attitude has become a part of my identity which influenced my perspective and experiences in life.
My architectural journey, thus far, can be summarised in three main phases being, impact, curiosity, and development.
My initial interaction with the power of architecture was through the influence of the London 2012 Olympics on the regeneration of Hackney and East London which saw greater access to transport and commercial services as well as its positive impact on the community spirit. There was a sense of new-found hope, elation, and opportunity in the light of the recovery from the financial crisis and London 2011 riots. Likewise, with such a great investment I observed the intensification of the gentrification process which fragmented the existing community. This impacted my interaction with the world which was expressed through my shift in the tonality of my sketches and watercolour work which saw a more politicised and darker perspective of the inner city London metropolis.
My perspective on architecture following my GCSE’s was strongly influenced by the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 in which highlighted a strong sense of vulnerability amongst those inhabiting such neglected and poorly designed environments similar to that of Grenfell. Such an injustice brought about solidarity from having grown up in a neglected environment also and provoked me to see architecture beyond its aesthetic existence. My pursuit to understand more around such an issue occurred during my A-Levels with Geography being most relevant, due to its exploration of physical processes and the impact of climate change as well as geopolitical and environmental influences on people.
Alongside this imperative geographic practical knowledge, my engagement in organisations saw me observe architecture from a more experiential perspective, as listed below:
Such an experience had a great impact on my ability to begin understanding what it means to design and how I can express my insights through different media.
Despite overcoming the various barriers at this stage, it was a challenge to adapt my mindset to that of an architectural one which was supported by individuals who saw my potential long before I did. Such individuals include my Amos Bursary mentor, the coordinator of Woodhouse College’s Art/ Architecture club (2018-2019) and the various teachers whom in which encouraged and believed in me.
My experience whilst at the University of Reading, studying BSc Architecture, highlighted a pivotal and intense moment of my life whereby I learned to appreciate the design process, the theories and legalities behind design, and the social and sustainable possibilities for its assembly. Despite the trials of completing such an intense course during Covid-19, I found immense joy and passion in certain modules such as History and Theory, and Construction and Technology where I was able to discover historical and contemporary architectural theories and methods, where I could immerse myself in the ideas and belief systems behind architectural forms and learn how to apply such ideas to my studio module.
Image showing a collage of a community's relevance to world, for what it offers as opposed to the beauty of its very existence from my Design Studio 6 module in 3rd year.
More importantly, I discovered this was a powerful way of discovering my style and perspective on architecture and therefore what ‘brand’ of architecture I follow and therefore what makes me unique. Through this I was able to devliver essays around my ambition of social mobility, particularly around gentrification, I was also able to discover more accessible and sustainable methods of construction to compliment the idea of social mobility. As my skills sharpened, so did my desire to give meaning and significance to a design and its purpose inlcuding its inhabitants, a core belief which I intend to carry with me to BKTU Delft and my future architectural endeavours.
A 1:50 section cutting through my Design Studio 6 design displaying the balance between function and community interaction within the building but also the significance of its purpose to people, the wider world and the environment throughout the future decades.
This moment was also significant for my family as I am the first to graduate whilst obtaining a First Class in this degree. I mention this to highlight the achievement that I have gained to appreciate the sacrifices made by others to get me here. Despite any struggles which occurred, it was my mother and late grandmother who pushed and sacrificed their time, energy, and peace to give me the opportunity, as well as many other individuals who gave me hope and technical insight to even be able to be accepted by BKTU Delft, an achievement which I never thought was possible.
Overall Work Experience:
My past and existing architectural work experiences/ internships are highlighted below alongside who referred me to acknowledge that despite my hard work I would not be here if it was not for the goodwill of these individuals or organisations.
Interests Outside of Architecture
Extra-curricular activities for me has always been considered a ‘break’ from academia and source of inspiration for myself since primary school.
Music and Artistic Expression
Having been born into a musical family and church, music became a prominent part of my life from singing in church, chamber choirs in primary and secondary school, and university including my Bass II position in the London Youth Choir. Music, gallery, and theatre trips were more than just a passion for my family and I to explore and widen our artistic insights, but also a method by my mother to keep me preoccupied and away from streets of Hackney. I found this challenging growing up as I struggled to understand what it meant to be a ‘young black man,’ as my experiences such as that of my artistic one juxtaposed what stereotypes said I was supposed to be. From solos in my school halls to my sketching of my perspective of the world, I found comfort and joy in observing the beauty in which I could produce, but the experience taught me from a young age to never let someone else dictate your narrative, even if they look like you. But more importantly to discover ways to liberate vulnerable individuals from pre-written narratives around their ethnicity, social status and more through architecture.
Photo with Kiri Te Kanawa after Westside Story performance on Sky Arts
Performance of David Bowie's 'Dancing in the Street' at Secondary schools Summer Concert in 2016
Chamber Choir Performance at University of Reading Winter ConcertLondon Youth Choir performance at the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance, aired live on BBC 1 November 2017
Growing up in church taught me the responsibility and value of helping out another person where possible, in which I was properly able to realise during my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award where I volunteered at Oxfam (2015-2017), followed by my role as co-founder and co-president in Woodhouse College’s African Caribbean society, in which partially contributed to my receiving of the Jack Petchey award (2019). My role in Woodhouse College’s ACS gave me an insight into volunteering with great responsibility, whereby it was a role which required passion, persistence, and desire to inspire, which exceeded my personal expectations of the impact I can have on individuals.
This inspired me to take on roles as a volunteer guide at Whitehall for Open House London, being a Welfare Officer for Reading University Architecture Society but perhaps most importantly my role in helping the Amos Bursary (a charity which empowers and provides corporate skills and opportunities for young black men and women from London and Birmingham) to develop its outreach initiative, which partially contributed to my receiving of the Amos Bursary Student of the year award (2022). Nevertheless, it has become apparent that I genuinely enjoy helping other people, whether as part of developing ‘generational wealth’ in all aspects within the black community or acknowledging the opportunity to help others I intend to continue such acts through my architectural journey.
Receiving the Jack Petchey award by Caroline Stock, Mayor of London borough of Barnet, in 2019
Page taken from the Amos Bursary 2022 Impact Report (link to full report here: https://www.amosbursary.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Amos-Impact-Report_20220323FV%20(1).pdf)
Session 1 of Welfare Wednesday for RUAS
The art of oration informed many activities in which I took part in as a child through to today. From being an Olympic Ambassador in primary school where I had to deliver school assemblies, to debating competitions from ten-years old inspired and gave me the confidence and skillset to deliver ideas and connect with individuals on a larger platform. My secondary school years saw me engage in debating teams through to delivering or leading panels for my college’s ACS and university’s architecture society. I found such a skill was not only enjoyable but enabled me to have a voice and develop an opportunity to articulate ideas, feelings, and confidence in various (unwelcome) spaces. Through organisations such as the Amos Bursary I recognised its power and influence and how it has the power to liberate individuals from personal or societal confines.
Me hosting a virtual panel for the Amos Bursary Me speaking at a 'how to network' session for Woodhouse College's ACS
Rural and Urban Exploration
My new-found passion of hiking and nature walks became apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic which became an escape from reality but also a source of inspiration and awe whether in Seven Sisters or the Lake District. Despite residing in this concrete jungle, being inner city London, I find that exploring the city through unplanned routes engaged a newfound sense of place and slight comprehension of other people’s experiences within this city. From the routes along the Regents Canal to the Thames side path from East to West I was able to physically and emotionally engage with historical and contemporary layers around me and learn more about myself and my values through my observations of such surroundings. Me exploring Durdle Door
“As an intern at Cushman & Wakefield André was looking to discover the world of real estate, and already talking about doing an additional internship in construction and design before diving back into an architectural masters. I gladly embarked on helping him through the year that lead to his successful application to Delft university. André has unwavering motivation and passion for architecture, which shows whenever he talks about his ambitions to - once qualified as an architect - contribute to communities and a sustainable future. He is not only a serious and hard worker, but also patient and humble. This masters in Delft is a key opportunity for André to pursue his development towards becoming a talented architect, and an opportunity for us to invest in his future contribution to better cities, better communities and a better experience for our future.”
Senior Workplace Consultant at Cushman & Wakefield
“I was assigned as one of Andre’s Amos Bursary mentors, but such was Andre’s wisdom that even at 16, I learnt as much from him as he did from me!
When Andre spoke about architecture, he did not speak abstractly about buildings or shapes – he instead spoke about the impact of spaces and how it affects our health and outcomes. He identified how building structures in inner city estates affected the mental wellbeing of its young people, and was passionate about redesigning them in a way that would create joy and give people a chance to flourish. That’s the kind of man Andre is – he looks through overwhelming bleakness in people and areas to find the spark of potential and cultivates it in others.
Andre set up a mentoring and study skills programme for a group of sixth form students who were lacking motivation, committing himself to travelling from Reading to London over the course of a year to help them recognise and believe in their own potential. As they will testify, he played a vital role in their success (both academic and personal development) at the end of their A-levels. Despite this, the only time Andre would ever even mention his programme was when he was asking for feedback or galvanising others to volunteer, and he would always minimise his own involvement.
Andre is easily the most impressive young person I have had the pleasure of knowing. Contributing to this campaign is not a donation, it’s an investment – investing in a young man who will change the world for the better; a humble and selfless leader who works tirelessly to manifest the potential in others; an investment in ideas not just about buildings, but about community health and redesigning our spaces to bring joy and happiness to the spaces where we spend most of our time.”
Select Committee Engagament Manager, UK Parliament & Chair at Rekindle School
“Andre is an incredibly talented young person on the road to becoming a phenomenal architect. He has a great aptitude for creating designs and solutions that not only inspire but also create spaces that are directly focussed to serve and elevate the diverse communities that surround us. I have mentored André for over 4 years now and I’ve seen him continue to flourish. Having an opportunity to take up this great opportunity in TU Delft would be an opportunity too good to waste. Please help him to fulfil his potential in becoming the next architect of our generation.”
Stephanie Edwards ARB RIBA
Founding Director of Urban Symbiotics
Financial Breakdown Table (as per the TU Delft Website, 2023)
This project offered rewards