Given the current political climate, this year’s International Women’s Day holds particular resonance as we celebrate the strength, talents and power of women throughout the world.
This piece is dedicated to women in architecture – those inspirational, tenacious, intelligent and imaginative women who have contributed greatly to the industry.
While some are well known, others may not be as familiar – yet all have helped redefine our definitions of space and helped enhance and improve our lifestyles through architecture.
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F A R S H I D M O U S S A V I
Originally from Iran, Farshid is an internationally-acclaimed architect with a vast and global portfolio.
She has designed residential complexes in Montpellier, The Victoria Beckham store in London and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, which featured at the 2012 Architecture Biennale in Venice.
London educated and trained, she established the architectural firm FMA in 2011.
The famed practice has won many awards for its much-publicised work, including 6 RIBAs.
Farshid is also a Professor at Harvard Graduate School of design and has written a number of books, including The Function of Form and the Function of Style.
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K A Z U Y O S E J I M A
Born in Japan, Kazuyo is an esteemed architect whose designs are synonymous with classic Japanese minimalism and clean lines.
With a master’s degree in Architecture at the Japan Women’s University, Kazuyo established her own architectural practice in 1987, Kazuyo Sejima & Associates.
She later developed a partnership with her long-term colleague, Ryue Nishizawa, co-founding SANAA – a firm that saw her and her partner win the 2010 Pritzker Prize.
Sejima has not only been a pioneering figure for architecture in Japan, but for women globally. In 2010, she was elected Director for the Architecture sector within the Venice Biennale – the first woman ever to hold this position.
Her works exude a strong modernist style and include the Design Museum, Tokyo; The Louvre Lens, Paris and the Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.
Sejima’s humanitarian involvement is equally admirable – Following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that devastated the east coast of Japan, she formed an alliance with 5 other architects.
The influential team created the “Homes for All” scheme –a relief project aimed at overcoming the housing crisis faced by many during one of the most devastating natural disasters the country had seen.
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Z A H A H A D I D
Undoubtedly one of todays most well known female architects, Dame Zaha Hadid was an icon and inspiration throughout her life.
Iraqi-born Hadid moved to London in 1972, studying at the Architectural Association School of Architecture.
Her career in the industry began with teaching – she was Professor at the association at which she studied, followed by various other prestigious universities in the UK and the US.
Hadid’s pioneering vision and incredible imagination not only propelled her career, but her revered status as a ground-breaking architect.
Her works are famed globally and include the London Aquatic Centre for the 2012 Olympic games, The Heydar Aliyev Centre in Azerbaijan, the Performing Arts Centre in Abu Dhabi and the Messner Mountain Museum, South Tyrol.
Deemed “The Queen of the Curve”, Hadid’s work has never failed to challenge the norms of geometry and conventional spatial perspective.
From her educational days, where her former professor referred to as “a planet in her own orbit”, to her untimely passing in March 2016 – Zaha Hadid has opened our imaginations, has generated inspiration and has stood to be an incredible role model forever more.
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A M A N D A L E V E T E
Amanda Levete is an award-winning British architect whose work is recognised across many of the UK’s most famous landmarks.
Starting her career at Foster + Partners, she then joined Future Systems – propelling the practice forward and elevating many of their avant-garde projects from concept into reality.
In 2003, Selfridges Birmingham was one of these – a monumental, curvaceous structure and a pioneering example of organic architecture that the practice is renowned for.
Construction of the MAAT Lisbon (Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology) is pure awe-inspiring; a project that Levette was personally chosen for, based on her unique vision teamed with her understanding of design for public spaces.
There is an almost ‘other-worldly’ emphasis on the forms and finishes of many of Levete’s works, revealing an incredibly conceptual, highly imaginative and forward-thinking mind.
In 2009, Levete established her own practice, AL A; who in 2011, won a competition to redesign the entrance to London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.
The space is set to feature the Architects’ signature fluidity in the subterranean gallery and courtyard.
The project is scheduled to open to the public this year, so… watch this space.