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Umi Baden-Powell


  • Umi Baden-Powell
  • Area

    The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design


    Research Associate, The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design

  • Umi Baden-Powell is a research-led multidisciplinary architectural designer and creative director. She uses architectural thinking, design and visual art as tools for healing and enriching our relationship to one another and to the world we inhabit: activism through architecture.

  • Biography

  • Umi was educated in Fine Arts at University College London (Slade School of Fine Art) and in Architecture at the Royal College of Art, where she was recipient of the RIBA ICE McAslan Bursary 2015-2016. She also won the Helen Hamlyn MIE Design Award for Healthcare with her collaborative project Okun Makoko: Waste to Wealth.

    Umi trained in London with de Rijke Morgan Marsh Architects (dRMM) and has since continued to practice through her recently founded collective studio ‘insider-outsider’. Being of Dominican (West Indian) and British heritage she has had the opportunity to travel in the Caribbean, North America, Europe and Asia in pursuit of ways to provoke social empowerment. ‘insider-outsider’ is an approach to creative design that centres the ‘outsider’, developing tools to catalyse ecological, inclusive, and cultural interventions from the bottom up, whilst forming alternative strategies for resilient and sustainable lifestyles. An ’outsider’ is an underrepresented stakeholder, it could be a marginalised community/entity or a stakeholder with limited human representation eg. the environment itself. This methodology is embodied through her work with the Helen Hamlyn Centre of Design, where she has begun an exciting project, working with Age UK and RBS, exploring the growing technology gap for older generations and methods of maintaining inclusivity as we progress into a digital world.

    Umi’s work has been published online and in printed journals. She has exhibited her work in the UK, West Africa and the Caribbean, participating in many award-winning international projects. She has taught and lectured at MIT, Teeside University, Barbados Community College, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (‘Art Moves’ 2014 exhibition) and various informal events such as public works’ wick sessions

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  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Presentations and Conferences

    • Baden-Powell, U. (2017) MIT Conference on the Resilient Reconstruction of the Caribbean - Invited Guest Speaker + Video Presentation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Baden-Powell, U. (2014) Art Moves' exhibition lecture LLDC, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London


    • Okun Makoko: RCA School of Architecture Graduate Exhibitions (2017), Royal College of Art, Kensington
    • Okun Makoko co-design exhibition and engagement programme, Lagos, Nigeria (2017)
    • The Fresh Air Collection (2013) Space, 129 - 131 Mare Street, London
    • A-float Pop-Up exhibitions and film screenings (2012-2014): Frieze Art Fair (2013), Peckham Artist Moving Image Festival (2013), AN-ARCHaeologY Book Launch (2013) - collaboration with Nomadic Reading Room & Isabel Mallet, Nomadic Village (2012)


    • Ancestral Architecture artist residency (2017), Fresh Milk Art Platform, Barbados. 
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  • Awards and Grants

    • Helen Hamlyn MIE award for Healthcare (2017)
    • RIBA ICE McAslan Bursary: Zero Point House (2015)
    • Ruby & George Scholarship (2015)
    • The Duveen Travel Scholarship: Slade School of Fine Art (2009)