"Where are the women architects?" Despina Stratigakos, an architectural historian and professor, lamented in her book about women in the practice. (She even titled her book that very question.) The sentiment was certainly a resounding one, well-understood by many women who have worked in the profession and had to break through a male citadel. We know the number of women in architecture is small, and it gets smaller the higher up we look.
Which is why we wanted to recognize the women who are at the top, leading practices, and paving the way. To celebrate International Women's Day this month, we launched an open call to recognize women who run their own firms all around the world. And if their projects had never been published by us before, we were going to give them the spotlight.
What we found were an incredible group of women who impressed us with their designs, their work ethic, and their dedication towards the profession. Not only do these women design and build, but they lead teams, manage offices, and eventually took the leap to be their own bosses and do things their own way.
1. Ânia Gabriel Abrantes
firm: Ânia Gabriel Abrantes arquitectura | Aveiro, Portugal
Ânia: "I base my practice on this principle: each project is understood as a singular case. This philosophy seeks to integrate art and architecture with an obligatory web of relations between the project, the work, the site, the framework, the program, limitations and, ultimately, the users."
2. Husna Rahaman
firm: Fulcrum studio | Bangalore, India
Husna: "We are adventurers, discoverers and rambunctious playmates. This joy and calm comes through the lines we draft, the dreams that we weave and the zeal with which we stake our claim to reality with the finished project."
3. Roxana Mendoza
firm: Agave Arquitectos | Hermosillo, Mexico
Roxana: "I see my work as a daily mission to accomplish basic human needs. Architecture is an opportunity to transform cities and I am empowered to do so. I, as architect, am the conscious of the city. I have the ability to tell people what is good and bad, what will be a temporary satisfaction or an everlasting pleasure. Architecture is magic, it defines our behavior. Cities don’t live through people, they live through architecture. People come and go, good architecture stays forever."
4. Hulda Jónsdóttir
firm: Huldajons | Copenhagen, Denmark
Hulda: "I work on residential architecture in Iceland. I built my first house for a client in 2016 all by myself. Two years later I am still independent and have been designing and drawing houses for independent clients in Iceland as well as working in collaborations with architect forums. I focus on designing a sanctuary for the client, so I work in close collaboration with the client to find the best solution to his wishes. At the same time, I think about how to make the design practical, timeless and fun."
5. Georgia Lobo and Anita Freire
firm: Oficina D.A. | São Paulo, Brazil
Anita and Georgia: "Oficina D.A. is a firm formed by architects Anita Freire and Georgia Lobo. We works on several fronts: architecture projects, urban studies, furniture and photography. Both of us graduated in 2008 from Escola da Cidade and worked until 2011 at SIAA, a São Paulo-based office. From 2011 to 2013, Anita worked in the company Diagonal, coordinating Integrated Diagnostics in socioeconomics and territorial research. From 2009 to 2013, Georgia worked on the Museum of History of São Paulo together with architect Pedro Mendes da Rocha."
6. Ursula Emery McClure
firm: emerymcclure architecture, llc. | Lafayette, LA, United States
Ursula: "Our research practice speculates on the role of design in the confluence of multiple, seemingly contrary systems and aspires to develop tectonics that configure their futures. Our sites are never grounded, our conditions are never predictable, and our parameters are always in flux; they exist at the edges and transformational zones. Our practice searches to define potentialities found within complex systems and to contribute to the rich and unique global traditions where sociocultural and physical contexts are entrenched in architecture."
7. Nathalie Eldan
firm: NEA | Paris, France
Nathalie: "NEA is a Paris-based international studio for architecture, research and urban strategies. NEA operates on the entire spectrum of architecture from building and urban design to city interventions, research and publications, developing projects with an ethical approach to territory, society and environment."
8. Débora Vieira Mendes de Oliveira
firm: Tetro Arquitetura | Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Débora: "Based in Belo Horizonte, I graduated from the Federal Univsersity of Minas Gerais in 2005 and is a partner at the firm Tetro Arquitetura. Working in architecture, interior design and landscaping projects, I seek a practice that responds to the current demands of the society, that explores diverse constructive methods, and, creates unusual interactions with the natural or constructed environment."
9. Mariana Pereyra
firm: 20 metros cuadrados | Montevideo, Uruguay
Mariana: "I was born in Montevideo, Uruguay and am an architect from University De La República (2009). In 2011 I formed, together with the architect Javier Tournier, the studio "20 square meters" that specializes in the design of layouts for shows. My work involves the production of events, assembly schedules, design of technical solutions and design of stages, backstages and dressing rooms, among other tasks."
10. Marina Panzoldo Canhadas
firm: Marina Canhadas | São Paulo, Brazil
Marina: "I'm an architect, researcher and teacher. I'm currently working on writing projects and I collaborate freely with other architects and artists. I am constantly moving between the scale of architecture and object and works within the contexts of Latin American metropolises of São Paulo and Mexico City. I base my practice both in theoretical and experimental approaches."
11. Marina Villelabeitia
firm: estudio 3S LAB | Rada Tilly, Argentina
Marina: "I am an Architect and Cultural Manager from FADU/ UBA. I work independently in Buenos Aires and Patagonia, investigating landscape-identity-culture correspondences through explorations that draw on different disciplines. My series called MUNDO PETROLEO has been selected for the Argentinean exhibition at the Venice Bienniale, within the framework of the exhibition larger VERTIGO HORIZONTAL, which won the national contest for proposals organized by the Chancellery."
12. Lyudmila Castro and Estefanía Grandal
firm: Encaixe Arquitectura | O Porriño, Pontevedra, Spain
Ludmila and Estafaniá: "Estefanía Grandal Leirós (Architect ETSAC 2012) and Lyudmila Castro Fiorito (Architect Escola Superior Gallaecia 2016) are partners in Encaixe Arquitectura, a small studio founded in 2015 and established in O Porriño, Spain. Our vocation is to help people design spaces with life that respond to the needs of users, by enhancing the material and spatial qualities to create unique places with personality."
13. Beatriz Marques
firm: Sabiá Arquitetos | São Paulo, Brazil
Beatriz: "From furniture and interior design to buildings and public spaces, my firm Sabiá Arquitetos is open to collaborations with professionals from different disciplines. Our aim is to expand our own field of activity. Through a careful analysis of each project’s specificities we hope to provide solutions in a clear and sustainable way, with maximum use of available material and social resources."
We're proud to share the brilliant work of these women. They've become set designers, landscape designers, researchers, and architects for all sorts of buildings from residential houses to museums - and bosses! Cheers to them! And to the women out there who are contemplating starting a firm, may this list serve as inspiration. In a profession that is highly skewed towards men, we're glad that these women are paving the way for a new generation of leaders to come.