Dezeen Magazine

"Women are the salt of our lives. They give it flavour," says Santiago Calatrava 

Female architects should "just wait a second" for pay equality according to Santiago Calatrava, who entertained an audience in London by drawing naked women and explaining how his wife has supported his career.

Speaking at an event to mark the unveiling of his first London scheme, Calatrava offered his thoughts on the results of the recent Women in Architecture survey, which shows gender discrimination is rife in architecture.

"Women are the salt of our lives. They give it flavour," Calatrava told the audience at the talk in London's Design Museum.

The architect, who is planning a £1 billion development on the edge of London's River Thames, described the role his wife has played in supporting his career.

"My closest partner and the person I have been working with for 35 years has been my wife. She not only supported me and helped me but also framed my life," he said.

Asked whether women are valued equally in the profession by the chair, Scottish journalist Kirsty Wark, he replied: "Valued? Certainly" – and said it would be just a matter of time before women's salaries caught up with their male counterparts.

"If their material value is not yet estimated, then just wait a second, you know, and it will change," he said.

The annual Women in Architecture survey carried out by sister publications The Architects' Journal and The Architectural review revealed salary discrepancies of up to £55,000 between women and men in the same role.

It also showed that, based on the results of 2015's survey, the pay gap is only widening.

Following his talk, Calatrava went on to treat the audience to a live drawing session, sketching a pair of naked women in a kneeling position. Wark verbally captioned the piece: "Please sir can I have some more money!" – a reference to the overrunning costs the architect's projects are known to incur.

Calatrava dodged questions about whether his first major project in the UK would keep to budget.

The architect's Greenwich Peninsula scheme in southeast London will host a new tube station – replacing the present Norman Foster-designed transport hub – as well as a performance venue and winter gardens topped by three housing and hotel towers.

Spanish-born Calatrava is also the architect behind the Oculus, which soars above the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York, and the cantilevering Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro.

He has offices in Zurich, Paris and New York. He has recently opened a further studio in Dubai and is working on the Dubai Creek Tower – a slender observation tower expected to surpass the 828-metre-high Burj Khalifa.

Calatrava – who came in at number 29 on the Dezeen Hot List of the world's most read about industry figures – is also working on the UAE's national pavilion for the Dubai Expo 2020.