Pioneering Women Architects: From Latin America to Spain

Pioneering Women Architects: From Latin America to Spain

What are the stories of the first Ibero-American women architects? This is the main question we seek to answer in celebration of ArchDaily's theme: Women in Architecture.

Seeking to put their motivations, inspirations, and trajectories on the table, we carried out a research project to make visible and highlight some names that have not had their deserved recognition. Meet Doris Clark Núñez, Guadalupe Ibarra, Matilde Ucelay Maórtua, Filandia Pizzul, Dora Riedel, Luz Amorocho, María Luisa Dehesa, Arinda da Cruz Sobral, and Julia Guarino, below.

Doris Clark Núñez - Peru

by Carolina Velásquez and Wiley Ludeña

Pioneering Women Architects: From Latin America to Spain - Image 9 of 11
1. Via gustavhistory. 2 y 3. Cortesía archivo personal Manuel Velazco Clark

Doris Mary Clark Núñez is considered the first Peruvian woman architect. With a life marked by difficulties, questioning and restrictions simply because she was a woman in a disciplinary world that had traditionally been masculine, Clark Núñez became a point of reference for activism and resistance, as well as a search for subversion and a change of paradigms in traditional debates and structures. A life dedicated, from teaching, political and academic activity, to laying the foundations for the extension of the field of incidence for women in architecture.

Guadalupe Ibarra - Ecuador

by Verónica Rosero and María José Freire

Pioneering Women Architects: From Latin America to Spain - Image 10 of 11
Cortesía de Guadalupe Ibarra

Born in 1947 in the city of Quito, Guadalupe Ibarra settled in Cuenca during her adolescence because of her father's work in the army. There, she decided to study architecture and enrolled at the University of Cuenca in 1963. A high-achieving student, Ibarra obtained her degree in architecture in 1970, becoming the first Ecuadorian woman to graduate in this profession in the country. Immediately after her graduation, she competed for a teaching position at the same university, winning the competition among 30 participants with the "first seniority", that is, with the highest qualification in the process. Ibarra taught Project Workshop, Technical Drawing, and Construction Materials at that institution until 1978.

Matilde Ucelay Maórtua - Spain

by Mili Sánchez Azcona

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Matilde Ucelay Maórtua, primera arquitecta titulada española. Image © Mariela Apollonio

In 1931, Matilde entered the Madrid School of Architecture - the only one in the country at the time - after having completed the two years required prior to entry at the University of Salamanca, with remarkable qualifications. Matilde was the first Spanish woman to qualify as an architect in June 1936 and the first to fully exercise the profession, having finished her degree a year ahead of schedule, even with all the obstacles she faced in the educational environment. At that time, the news that a woman had been awarded the title of architect circulated throughout the media.

Filandia Pizzul - Argentina

by Zaida Muxí (courtesy of One Day An Architect)

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Filandia Pizzul. Image vía Un Día Una Arquitecta

The first female architect to receive a degree in Argentina was Filandia Pizzul in 1928 from the University of Buenos Aires when the degree had been created more than 50 years earlier. From 1874 onwards, the architecture course operated independently of the Science Department, where it had been taught since 1865. Her figure was a pioneer in various fields, as she was also the first woman to complete the courses of the Civil Aeronautics Directorate in 1928, obtaining pilot's certificate no. 181.

Dora Riedel - Chile

by Woman Architect

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© Mujer ArquitectA

In 1925, Dora Riedel entered the School of Architecture at the University of Chile, where she was an outstanding student for the five years she studied. According to the national census carried out on the 27th of November 1930, women accounted for 50.5% of the Chilean population, i.e. 2,164,736 out of a total of 4,287,445 Chileans. On the 9th of December of the same year, at the School of Architecture of the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences of the University of Chile, Dora Riedel Seinecke became the first woman in Chile to graduate as an architect and one of the first in Latin America.

Luz Amorocho - Colombia

by Agustina Iñiguez

Pioneering Women Architects: From Latin America to Spain - Image 5 of 11
1 y 3. Vía Poema del Ángulo Recto. 2. Cortesía de Perspectivas: Revista Científica de la Universidad de Belgrano

As the first female architect to graduate in Colombia in 1945, María Luz Amorocho Carreño is a leading figure in the country's architectural field, having practiced the profession in different areas ranging from teaching and design for the public and private spheres to writing and criticism, mainly in the magazine Proa. With a career spanning more than 40 years, she was able to defend her ideals in the midst of a changing context focused on the scope of modernity and managed to set a precedent in the professional practice of future women architects. By analyzing her work and her oeuvre, it is possible to study the different roles of architects, from drawing and construction to research and management.

María Luisa Dehesa - Mexico

by Mónica Arellano

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Montaje realizado por la autora

María Luisa Dehesa Gómez Farías, originally from Xalapa, Veracruz, became the first woman in Mexico to receive a degree in architecture. Her training began in 1933 when she was admitted to the Royal Academy of San Carlos, so she had to relocate to Mexico City - in a rented rooftop room in Coyoacán from where she traveled by tram - to be part of a class of 113 people, only five of whom were women.

Arinda da Cruz Sobral - Brazil

by Camila Belarmino.

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Montaje con fotografías cedidas por la autora

What other figures built their careers in Brazil apart from Lina Bo Bardi and Carmen Portinho? Research was started in search of other historically invisible names, and the starting point was the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro, which until the 1930s was the only school that offered a course in architecture in Brazil. Thus, the record of the architecture student Arinda da Cruz Sobral, who started the course in 1907 and received her degree in 1914, was found.

Julia Guarino - Uruguay

by Agustina Iñiguez

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JULIA GUARINO FICHTER, Primer arquitecta recibida en Uruguay, Revista Mundo Uruguayo Nº2049 (31/07/1958), pág.6 (ejemplar del IHA). Tomado para Nómada Uy. Image Cortesía de Medios Audiovisuales FADU - UdelaR

Born on the 17th of July 1897, Julia Guarino Fiechter was the first woman to obtain the title of architect in Uruguay in 1923. Although she was born in Eboli, in the province of Salerno in Italy, she grew up and developed her entire professional life in Uruguay after graduating from the Faculty of Architecture of the University of the Republic, where she was also a draughtswoman and teacher. A lover of drawing, mathematics, and construction, around 1920 she joined the Directorate of Architecture of the Ministry of Public Works as a draughtswoman. After receiving her degree, she developed as a technician, later occupying the position of Assistant Director in the public administration. She also worked as a secondary school teacher and sat on examining boards at the University.

This article is part of the ArchDaily Topics: Women in Architecture presented by Sky-Frame.

Sky-Frame is characterized by its empathic ability to take on different perspectives and points of view. We are interested in people and their visions, whether in architecture or in a social context. We deeply care about creating living spaces and in doing so we also question the role of women in architecture. From the arts to the sciences, women shape our society. We want to shed more light on this role, increase the visibility of Women in Architecture and empower/encourage them to realize their full potential.

Initiated by Sky-Frame, the “Women in Architecture” documentary is an impulse for inspiration, discussion, and reflection. The film's release is on 3 November 2022.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on 

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Cite: Dejtiar, Fabian. "Pioneering Women Architects: From Latin America to Spain" [Mujeres arquitectas pioneras: de Latinoamérica a España] 06 Jan 2023. ArchDaily. (Trans. Pérez Bravo, Amelia) Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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