Over the last few months there’s been much debate about the roles and transparency when it comes to females in the Built Environment. Initiatives such as the London’s Festival of Architecture Elephant Campaign, to Dezeen’s Move the needle campaigns, with a long list of practicing supporters pledging their commitment to transformation.
On the other end of the debate many architects, both female and male, are criticising the drive for these initiatives to not be the change that is desired. It is argued by many that there is no doubt change needed, but these campaigns focussing on the existing inequality as opposed to driving active participation of equality; more than often divides men and women and should call for greater stimulation and bravery, rather than protection.
Women do not create architecture to prove that they have a place in the profession. They create architecture as their passion and feel that as individuals, all can contribute our powerful ideas to transform our environment.
We want the work to be recognised for that without alternative agendas.
Jane Jacobs concisely stated: “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because and only when, they are created by everybody.”
How can we design an inclusive environment if our working agendas consist of barriers? Male and female architects working together in a more socially diverse profession should be our modus operandi. We should encourage our fellow colleagues to demand the use of fee scales fairly and reject deceitful competitions. We should encourage accessibility of the creative industry to more outsiders.
As a celebration of Architecture and the power of transformation it provides to our societies, we would like to focus on the promotion of equality in the profession by truly recognising architecture for the value of its positive contribution to the profession and its context. The following three projects / architects embodies principles that we believe contributes value to the architectural profession.
Focussing on the work itself, without the identification of an isolated / “special” category; allows us to give appreciation and encouragement to the work for the worth of its merits. By removing any alternative intentions, we can celebrate every piece of good architecture for its unique achievements and the inspiration it provides to us as fellow professionals.
Sophia Gray (1814–1871),
First female architectural designer in South Africa.
We recognise the pioneering woman that without any formal qualification, actively participated in the profession of Architecture. We now celebrate that the Sophia grey memorial lecture, held by the University of Free State from 1989-2015, became a gathering of professionals as equals to celebrate the architectural work and discourse in our country.
(Artefacts.co.za, Lexicon Sophia Gray Lectures & Exhibitions, https://www.artefacts.co.za/main/Buildings/style_det.php?styleid=733)
Museo de Sitio Julio C Tello, Peru, by Barclay & Crousse (2012),
Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre Crousse realised this red pigmented concrete building that doesn’t pretend to be anything else than what it is, where it is, or what it is intended for.
“A site museum, as the Paracas, acquires the additional challenge of having to integrate into the landscape that was the cradle of this culture, which is now part of the most important biological and landscaping reserve of the Peruvian coastal desert. The environmental harshness of the Paracas Desert and the preservation requirements of the collection are solved with an “environmental regulator device”, that defines the architectural volumes and spaces.”
(Barclay & Crousse Architecture, Paracas Museum, http://www.barclaycrousse.com/#/paracas-museum/)
The work of Carlo Scarpo (1906-1978),
We celebrate this Architect and his body of work for never allowing any part of his work or detail to become a consequence of building practice or standard conventions.
We have a lot to learn not only about the quality and sensitivity of design, but also the perseverance he had to continuously work closely on site with every project to ensure his envisioned outcome.
(Architecture, Brion Tomb and Sanctuary by Carlo Scarpa, http://www.architectours.it/brion-tomb-sanctuary/)
(Metalocus, The Architecture of details, https://www.metalocus.es/en/news/architecture-details-palazzo-querini-stampalia-carlo-scarpa)
Zeitz MOCAA, Heatherwick studio, 2011
This recent addition to our contemporary architecture and art collection challenges the conventional perceptions of structure and materiality. The ability to add so much character and sense of place to this historical yet purely utilitarian structure is truly commendable.
(Heatherwick Studio, Zeitz MOCAA Cape Town, http://www.heatherwick.com/projects/ buildings/zeitz-mocaa/)