New architectural scholarship program made possible by the Zaha Hadid Foundation could support Ukrainian refugees

Open Arms

New architectural scholarship program made possible by the Zaha Hadid Foundation could support Ukrainian refugees

(Courtesy London School of Architecture)

The London School of Architecture (LSA) announced late last month the launch of a new scholarship program providing full funding, including living expenses, to a total of three students who are refugees or come from low-income backgrounds. Specifically, the newly established awards will support students enrolled in LSA’s two-year M.Arch (Part 2) in Designing Architecture and are each worth just under $47,000 (£36,000) per student on top of the approximately $15,600 ( £12,000) minimum salary that students are guaranteed to earn during the first-year Practice Placement program.

Awardees could now potentially include displaced architecture students from war-ravaged Ukraine.

“We would be thrilled if this support were to go to a Ukrainian refugee at this terrible time. We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” Neal Shasore, chief executive and head of school at the LSA, recently told Building Design.

Funds from the new LSA scholarship program were made possible by a donation from the Zaha Hadid Foundation (ZHF), which also recently revealed plans to open permanent museum and research facilities spread across two London sites, including at Zaha Hadid Architects’ erstwhile offices in Clerkenwell.

‘It is a privilege to work with the Zaha Hadid Foundation in launching their first scholarships programme,” said Shasore in a press statement. “With their help we can reach students who would otherwise struggle to further their architectural education. This donation fulfills the ambitions of our ‘Open Up!’ fundraising campaign, and we look forward to announcing details of its next phase in due course.”

First conceived in 2011 and formally established four years later as the first independent school of architecture to open in England since the Architectural Association in 1847, the campus-less LSA is affiliated with London Metropolitan University and supported by a network of architectural practices across the city. The school is currently based out of 6 Orsman Road, a six-story, hybrid mass timber office building on Regent’s Canal designed by Waugh Thistleton Architects.

In a press release, the school referred to the late Hadid as “a pioneering architect whose practice and teaching paved the way for future generations of architects” and that it aims for the new, ZHF-backed scholarship program to “respect this spirit by allowing recipients to be whoever they want to be as an architect, removing financial worry for their duration, allowing them to focus on their placement, their studies, and cultivating their professional network.”

Per the LSA, to qualify applicants must come from a low-income background (a household with an income of £25,000/$32,500 or lower) and be financially independent from their parents or a refugee who would “otherwise be unable to pursue their architectural studies.” Students who are Black, Asian, or from minority ethnic communities are strongly encouraged to apply as are LGTQ+, women, and disabled/neurodivergent applicants.

While the formal deadline for applicants is March 31, Building Design relayed that interested Ukrainian architecture students who are fleeing or have already fled Russian aggression in their country “should get in touch now and he [Shasore] would do what he could to expedite the support.”

Zaha Hadid Architects was among the first major architecture firms to announce the suspension of all ongoing projects in Russia, where it has worked extensively in the past. Three ZHA-designed subway stations in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro had also just commenced construction weeks ahead of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of its sovereign neighbor on February 24.