David Miller Architects (DMA) is wholeheartedly committed to creating social value through their work, as architects in their design work, but also through the way they practice and their relationship with the community and the wider construction industry.
The catalyst for their CSR policy came through their involvement with Westminster Business Council, having benefited from their initiative to bring large and small companies together to promote growth and sustainable communities from the start, when they were only 6 people.
Having grown to 19, DMA joined the Heart of the City Foundation Programme in 2018 to help formalise their CSR approach and learn from a great range of experts.
Social responsibility is thoroughly embedded in DMA’s culture and they have a lively and structured programme of activities that focuses on working with young people. It is an approach that combines giving young people valuable work experience but at the same time plugging the skills gap and trying to make sure that DMA attracts talent from the broadest possible pool in their industry.
They believe it is important to use their professional skills to help develop sustainable communities and improve the places that we live and work in. Last year, DMA won CECA’s prestigious SME Inspiring Change Award in recognition for their Workplace and Education initiatives as well as the Constructing Excellence SME of the Year.
Through partnerships and collaborations with organisations and schools as well as offering apprenticeships, DMA encourages and supports young people into the many rewarding careers that architecture and construction offer. They are working hard to overturn industry norms by encouraging people from the broadest range of backgrounds including non-traditional educational backgrounds.
For example, they recently took part in the UK-wide British Science Week initiative to encourage school pupils to get involved in STEM subjects. Westminster City Council invited them to work with the King Solomon Academy in Marylebone to showcase how important STEM subjects are in architecture. DMA developed a brief that challenged a group of students from years 8 to 10 who came to the office, to design a work space for a particular profession. The students were introduced to what architects do as well as how technology is used within the office. After a short tutorial in using Revit, they were able to model their designs and then try them out in virtual reality. They came up with some great ideas and were inspired by the possibilities of technology and design in the process!
Other examples include working with Class of Your Own (COYO) to deliver the innovative new Design Engineer Construct (DEC) GCSE by providing classroom-based support that directly links education and industry. Through Open City Accelerate into University, DMA also mentors sixth form students from local state schools who want to explore careers in architecture, they also collaborate with local schools and Local Authorities to provide 15 week-long work placements every year that are open to all. Recent students have been from Pimlico Academy, Westminster Academy and from the Fitzrovia Youth Partnership and DMA also offers work placements to the Social Mobility Foundation. DMA sponsors St Joseph’s School in Croydon through COYO and will be providing ongoing classroom and site visit support over the next two years.
David Miller Architects looks forward to building on the company’s experience of these initiatives and adding layers of improvement through further collaborations, sharing information and experience with other SMEs in terms of the business case as well as the feel-good factor.
They are working with the Sir Simon Milton University Technical College in Westminster and have recently been introduced to their Design Engineer Construct (DEC) team and are now helping to initiate the new DEC qualification tackling the skills gap in the industry. They believe that these links with education are vital to be able to help make a difference.
“David Miller Architects really get the importance of diversity! They open their doors to kids from all backgrounds and come up with creative ways to bring out the best in even the hardest to reach pupils who have been excluded. It’s definitely “opportunities for all” at DMA – made even more impressive by the fact that this small company is having more impact than many of the big businesses.”
– Alison Watson MBE, Founder, Class of Your Own