Built By Us – looking back at 2018

It’s been a fantastic year for Built By Us. We’ve spent 2018 building our three programmes, strengthening our networks and making a real impact on our industry. Here’s a look back at what we’ve been up to this year.

Developing our programmes

This year we launched the 6th annual FLUID mentoring programme, welcoming the biggest cohort of mentees since the programme began.


2018 has also seen two fantastic FLUID social events and a successful launch party, bringing together our inspiring cohorts to share advice and top tips, grow their networks and get to know each other. We’ve helped our mentors and mentees tell their stories and met some really inspirational people – all of whom are helping us to build a truly diverse workforce. As our 2018/19 cohort start their mentoring journeys, we’re planning a host of exciting events to make next year even better than before!

We also begun to develop our Shape programme, dedicated to helping entrepreneurs in built environment industries to create their own businesses.

Watch this space for more information on applying for the next cohort in the Summer of 2019.

Quote BBU Newsletter May 18.png

Supporting industry events

2018 has been a busy year for BBU! Founder Danna Walker has represented BBU at a host of prestigious industry events, meeting some outstanding role models and sharing the BBU journey with our industry.

There was the first Women in Construction Summit in March, where Danna shared her personal story and joined leading women in the industry as they discussed how best to make the business case for gender diversity.

During Pride Month, BBU also spoke at Architecture LGBT+’s Pride Breakfast at the RIBA in London, chairing a discussion on LGBT+ issues in the industry. In October, the Ethnicity in Leadership Summit took place, exploring issues of diversity in leadership roles.

Danna also appeared on national radio, taking part in the BBC Radio 4 series Seriously…, exploring the architecture of jails and why we persist in using a 250-year-old design for these establishments.

Most recently, the National Association of Women in Construction celebrated it’s 15th year anniversary with its excellent Annual Conference. Danna took part in a panel discussion on ‘Women Shaping the Industry’, chaired by Construction News’ Lucy Alderson. She joined fellow panellists Annie Bowman (Hoydens) and  Cheryl Pilliner-Reeves (Director of PR Architect and Founder of ArchiMake).

It’s been a non-stop year full of fascinating stories, important events and positive change. 2019 will see BBU participating in even more industry events to make sure our story reaches as many people as possible.

Inspirational people

BBU wouldn’t exist without the inspirational individuals that support its programmes. This year, we began to tell the stories of our mentors and mentees, to showcase the benefits of helping others to reach their potential. We met Yemi, Tara, Baldeep and Rob, who shared their stories with us and helped us understand what it means to be part of BBU.

We also heard from some unique people working in the sector to find out how they got to where they are today. We met Shade Abdul, an Architect with her own practice, Building Surveyor Emmanuel Owusu, and David Ogunmuyiwa, Architect at ArchitectureDoingPlace and London Mayor's Design Advocate.

We’d love to hear your story too – please get in touch if you’d like to share your journey with us.

Celebrating with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)

On the 25 September, the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) London and the South East celebrated its 15 year anniversary. 

Built By Us was lucky enough to be invited to the organisation’s first Annual Conference, bringing together a host of fantastic women working in the construction industry across the UK and Ireland.


Drawing on recent events – 100 years of women’s suffrage and various political and social movements – the conference specifically aimed at addressing issues of gender diversity in the context of business. In particular, it praised initiatives such as Built By Us, which are dedicated to supporting women and those from under-represented backgrounds into traditionally male-dominated industries.

The focus of the agenda was the strengths women bring to business, including creative problem solving and innovation. A host of speakers came together to inspire and empower attendees to not shy away from the challenges at hand – the rally cry was to take action to make a difference to their immediate environment and the industry as a whole without waiting to be given the opportunity.

Danna Walker, founder of Built By Us, took part in a panel discussion on ‘Women Shaping the Industry’, chaired by Construction News’ Lucy Alderson. She joined fellow panellists Annie Bowman (Hoydens) and  Cheryl Pilliner-Reeves (Director of PR Architect and Founder of ArchiMake).

Architect and BBU Founder Danna Walker presents The Architecture of Incarceration on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 broadcast the documentary, Architecture of Incarceration, on Thursday 23 August 2018, presented by south London based architect and founder of Built By Us (BBU), Danna Walker.


With Britain committed to building 10,000 new prison places in a £1.3 billion project announced in 2015, Architecture of Incarceration asks some searching questions about prison architecture and what we expect from the buildings that house almost 90,000 men and women convicted of criminal offences across England and Wales.


By most measures prisons are failing. Report after report damns poorly-designed prison buildings that are inadequate for rehabilitation. Around half of all people in prison will be reconvicted within twelve months of release, with an estimated cost to the taxpayer of between £10-15 billion each year.

Prison architecture is possibly the only area of architecture where the aim is not the aesthetics of place and space. A lack of innovation over many decades means that the go-to design for prisons dates from the eighteenth century.

New prisons like HMP Berwyn in Wrexham, opened in 2017, have some progressive architectural flourishes, but essentially follow the centuries-old blueprint of plain facades, punctuated by tiny windows. Yet the work that takes place inside prisons is of fundamental importance to the safety of our society.

Architect and social entrepreneur Danna Walker visits London's oldest jail, HMP Brixton, as well as the unusual setting of HMP Styal near Manchester, and questions the role of prisons and whether good design can drive better outcomes.

She also visits Halden Prison in Norway, built ten years ago and often cited as “the world’s most humane prison”, but, it is very expensive to run. Could we learn valuable lessons from its strikingly humane architecture as we embark on our own transformative prison building programme?

The Art of Now: Architecture of Incarceration is produced by the Prison Radio Association and was be broadcast on BBC Radio 4, Thursday 23 August 2018 at 11.30am. It will also be available on the BBC iPlayer Radio App to hear on demand following the broadcast.


Built By Us is a not-for-profit social enterprise on a mission to diversify the construction sector. Its vision is that by 2030 BBU it will have played an active role in making the sector more inclusive and a better reflection of the society it serves. BBU does this by supporting diverse and talented individuals wishing to develop sustainable careers in the built environment and by supporting built environment businesses on their journey to become more inclusive workplaces.


The Prison Radio Association is a charity that specialises in creating media to transform lives and reduce crime. It runs National Prison Radio, the world’s first national radio station for prisoners. Available to more than 80,000 people across England and Wales via in-cell television, it has revolutionised the way we communicate in prisons. 86% of people in prison listen to National Prison Radio, and 45% listen every day. PRA Productions is the commercial arm of the charity. It creates audio, films and animations for a wide variety of clients, including the BBC. All profits go back into supporting their work in prisons.