Sexism in architecture: Remember what Kathryn Findlay said? ‘Women, don’t be put off by the aggression of men’

By Josephine Fairley
The Telegraph, February 10, 2014

Say ‘female architect’ and who springs to mind? Zaha Hadid, probably, whose sensuous buildings include the London 2012 Olympics’ Aquatic Centre, Guangzhou and Dubai Opera Houses (currently being built), Hong Kong’s Innovation Tower, and (most recently) the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, a curvy new landmark in Hyde Park.

But although Iraqi-British Hadid may be the most high-profile woman in architecture today, she isn’t winning all the prizes. Last week she was in the audience watching another outstanding female architect pick up prizes in The Architects’ Journal’s Women in Architecture Awards 2014. Emerging Woman Architect of the Year was awarded to Julia King, a “truly inspiring” (the judges’ words) young British-Venezuelan architect focusing on urban development.

Sewers may not be as sexy as art galleries, but they’re equally important: King has built a sewer for low-income homes in New Delhi, and is working on the regeneration of a major drain that runs through slums in India. In the judges’ citation, she “is very driven, very smart and capable of getting things done in very difficult circumstances”. Woman Architect of the Year was Francine Houben, designer of the Library of Birmingham, currently working on the HOME Art & Culture House in Manchester, and a post-doctorate housing scheme for (the eternal students) at Cambridge. Sadly, architect Kathryn Findlay didn’t get to pick up The Jane Drew Prize for lifetime contribution to architecture: by a strange twist of fate, Findlay died on the very day (10th January) that the awards were announced. More…

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