Jordan Whitewood-Neal: RIBA Rising Star and ‘Soft Activist’.

Congratulations to Brighton Alumni, Jordan Whitewood-Neal who has been recognised as a RIBA Rising Star. The recognition is throughly well deserved as anyone who has worked with Jordan over past few years would know.

After completing his Part 2 in 2020 and his MRes this year at Brighton Jordan has continued as an Architectural researcher and educator leading research, conversations and action for disability justice. Jordan is also a co-founder of the new disability research collective Dis/, drawing on his own experiences as a wheelchair user.

Dis/ arose from the Invisible Tales event at the London Festival of Architecture, where physically disabled and neuro-diverse creatives shared their experiences of navigating cities – stories that Jordan says are usually ‘completely untold’.

As a collective Dis/ is hoping to pair disabled architectural researchers with disabled people from outside the profession to help them develop their agency to talk critically about the city and their needs. In doing so, it hopes to encourage consideration of disability as a critical part of the design process as well as challenging the perceived homogeneity of disability.

‘The architectural discipline has in the last few years finally begun to address race and gender inequities, but disability always trails behind,’ says Jordan, who is doing his best do change this through an impressive array of activities.

Jordan describes himself as a soft activist who wants to effect change through research and he hopes to raise the profile of disabled people within the profession.

‘A fundamental issue in architectural practice is a scarcity of disabled architects and designers,’ he says. ‘There are very few in practice.’

Jordan is now co-leading a design think tank at the London School of Architecture, exploring the retrofit of cultural infrastructure for disabled and ageing communities. This will tackle the tensions between retrofit and ensuring accessibility for both individuals and communities. He combines this and other academic roles with part-time work in practice, and is also an Architecture Foundation Young Trustee.

This post was adapted from RIBA Journal article October 2022.