Articles Breakfast Talk: Dr Ben Campkin on inclusion and diversity in the built environment

Presented in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and Connected Cities Lab, our Melbourne studio’s recent Breakfast Talk hosted Dr Ben Campkin, author of Queer Premises: LGBTQ+ Venues Since the 1980s, and contributor to Queer Spaces: An Atlas of LGBTQ+ Places and Stories.

Drawing upon his research of London’s social and cultural infrastructure, Ben explored the issues of inclusion and diversity in the built environment, and what responses are possible or desirable.

He shared with our audience that the first studies of ‘gay space’ in cities emerged in the 1960s and since then, in parallel with social movements focused on improving minority rights and the recognition of sexual and gender diversity, researchers and campaigners have worked to create and articulate the spaces and heritage associated with diverse LGBTQ+ populations in a multitude of ways.

Ben’s talk highlighted that across many contexts we are witnessing a new moment of interest in queer urbanism, made evident through recent mapping projects such as the Queer Spaces atlas (2022) (co-sponsored by Grimshaw in London), theoretical critiques of planning as a ‘heterosexist’ project, and calls for queer heritage to be safeguarded in redevelopment contexts and the discipline of architecture to embrace ‘queer methods’ or to pursue queer modes of intersectional inclusive design.

Ben explored how the history of our cities may be better understood as we look to design more inclusive and diverse cities in the future. It is fascinating to contemplate the many layers of our cities and how each layer can contribute to the individual and collective sense of belonging and safety, and in turn the creation of more vibrant, welcoming cities.

Neil Stonell, Partner, Melbourne