Dezeen Magazine

100 Women Architects book

Ten women architects "who should all be household names"

The recently released 100 Women: Architects in Practice book showcases the work of 100 architects from around the world. Here, the authors pick 10 that have never before been featured in Dezeen.

Launched last month, 100 Women: Architects in Practice was written by academics Harriet Harriss, Naomi House, Monika Parrinder and Dezeen editor Tom Ravenscroft, to draw attention to the work of women architects that is often overlooked.

"There are still very few well-known female architects"

"The architects in this book, who happen to be women, should all be household names, but the reality is that they are not and that beyond Zaha Hadid there are still very few well-known female architects," the authors told Dezeen.

"In almost every country in the world, architecture is still a very male-dominated profession. This book aims to be a small part in the process of correcting that imbalance, while also looking at what architecture is, who it is for and what it can do."

The book contains interviews with 100 architects from all across the world along with images of their work. Along with the obvious focus on gender, the book aimed to be geographically diverse and features women from 78 countries.

"We divided the world following the UN geoscheme, meaning that every region is equally represented, unlike the majority of books on architecture," said the authors.

"We know of no other book that captures the work of architects from Botswana, Congo, Cuba, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago," they continued. "Even ignoring gender diversity, we believe this book presents numerous intriguing perspectives on current, global architectural thinking."

"We can't wait until books like this are not needed"

According to the authors, the publication is needed as the majority of architecture books still predominantly feature male architects.

"We can't wait until books like this are not needed," said its authors. "Throughout this process, we have been asked numerous times if we would write a book focused on male architects, and the answer is no, as this has, and is, already being done."

"We hope this adds to the growing awareness of women's rich contribution to architecture and adds much-needed geographical diversity."

100 Women Architects book for RIBA
It includes some of the world's most high-profile architects, including Mariam Issoufou Kamara. Photo by Orlando Gili

The authors aimed to include currently practising architects with interesting perspectives on architecture.

Alongside some of the world's best-known architects – Liz Diller, Frida Escobedo, Tatiana Bilbao, Mariam Issoufou Kamara, Sofia Von Ellrichshausen, Tosin Oshinowo, Lina Ghotmeh, Francine Houben, Rossana Hu and Dorte Mandrup – the book features numerous women that have not yet received extensive global attention.

"Discussion of women architects often revolves around a small group of women, many of them dead – Zaha Hadid, Lina Bo Bardi, Eileen Gray, et cetera – this book aims to expand this list and on a practical level move can act as a bluffer's guide and who's who for those writing articles or putting on lecture series," said the authors.

"Of course, we also hope it acts as inspiration for women architects and inspiring architects."

Here, the authors pick 10 women architects that have not yet featured on Dezeen:

Rahel Shawl
Royal Netherlands Embassy. Photo by Iwan Baan

Rahel Shawl, Ethiopia – "I care, not only about the building, but also about the process"

"Ethiopian architect Rahel Shawl believes that her buildings are often more than the sum of their parts, something that she attributes to the fact that she truly cares about how each of her buildings will be experienced and the process by which they are created.

"'I care', she says, 'not only about the building, but also about the process and how the people around me work.' And she will ask herself, 'How can I get the people on the ground inspired by my vision?'

As part of this desire to inspire, Shawl runs the mentorship programme abRen through her studio RAAS Architects, which is aimed at young professionals in the industry, especially female architects.

Suhailey Farzana
Naboganga River space. Photo courtesy of Co.Creation.Architects

Suhailey Farzana, Bangladesh – "I love to see the world through the people of different communities and co-create with them"

"Bangladeshi architect Suhailey Farzana is one of many architects we interviewed who share a profound concern for equality across the built – and unbuilt – environment.

"She is co-founder of Co.Creation.Architects, a practice which responds to the needs of the local community, in particular the women, enabling them to work towards the renewal of their shared environment. The relationships that Farzana has brokered in this process are built upon trust and care.

"Farzana describes the work she is engaged in as 'very organic', co-designing and co-creating with communities who are mostly self-funding any building that takes place. 'In the co-creation process everyone will find their own role,' she says. 'When we work, it's always the people's project, not our project.'"

Verónica Villate
Nordeste office building. Photo courtesy of Mínimo Común Arquitectura

Verónica Villate, Paraguay – "If we don't modify our ways of living, our planet's resources are not going to be enough"

"Verónica Villate is a founder-member of Mínimo Común Arquitectura based in Asunción, Paraquay, which designed one of the coolest-looking buildings in the book – the Nordeste office building in Curuguaty.

"Built from bricks from local earth that surrounds it, the building encapsulates the studio's principles of creating collaborative architecture using simple materials and local labour. Villate and her studio are keen to emphasise their collaborative approach to designing the environment, utilising what they describe as simple materials and local labour.

"'If we don't modify our ways of living, our planet's resources are not going to be enough,' she told us. Her practice is looking to future-proof its approach to making architecture, whilst simultaneously foregrounding the role of local communities in establishing sustainable building practices."

Takhmina Turdialieva
Centre for Contemporary Arts pavilion. Photo courtesy of Takhmina Turdialieva

Takhmina Turdialieva, Uzbekistan – "Just as nature heals and empowers us, architecture should do the same"

"One of the most exciting young architects in a part of the world that isn't often highlighted for its architectural innovation, Takhmina Turdialieva is an Uzbek architect who believes that architecture has the power to change behaviour.

"Alongside running her recently established studio in Tashkent, which has created an outdoor events space at the city's Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) and working on the refurbishment of several offices, she aims to draw more young people and women into discussions on the city's urban future.

"To do this she established Shaharsozlik To'lqini – an organisation dedicated to 'raising the voice of young architects' that has organised flash mobs, public talks and even a government-backed architecture competition to encourage a younger generation to engage with the profession."

Dorel Ramirez
Casa Puente. Photo by Eva Bendana

Dorel Ramirez, Nicaragua – "Architecture should be the reflection of an organic creative process"

"Nicaraguan architect Dorel Ramirez aims to create architecture that deeply engages its users in the design process, while also responding to the, often dramatic, nature of their sites. Over the past 25 years, she has designed over 100 houses, commercial buildings, schools and holiday residences in Nicaragua, including a home that bridges a lake and one on the side of a volcano.

"She summed up her ethos as 'a fusion of ideas and solutions from the architect with the wishes and means of the client, while always capturing the spirit of the site'."

Mélissa Kacoutié
Baazar Bar and Restaurant. Photo by Bain de Foule Studio

Mélissa Kacoutié, Ivory Coast – "We are a young country, so you can change people's point of view"

"One of a growing group of young African architects who have left the continent for education and returned to their home countries with the aim of making a lasting impact, Mélissa Kacoutié is focused on carrying out small-scale interventions in the Ivory Coast capital, Abidjan.

"'We have a huge amount of construction, and we are a young country, so you can change people's point of view and really make an impact,' Kacoutié told us. 'In Ivory Coast, people like what I propose; it is different from the norm.'

"Her modern aesthetic is rooted in the culture of the Ivory Coast. 'In Ivory Coast we have this way of seeing things instinctively – we call it technology, because it is a mix of technique and symbolism.'

For Kacoutié this is 'an expression of a type of African cultural wealth'."

Takbir Fatima
Bright Horizon Academy. Photo courtesy of Takbir Fatima

Takbir Fatima, India – "I want to make architecture and design universally accessible and applicable"

"One of the directors of the Hyderabad-based studio DesignAware, Takbir Fatima aims to create awareness through design by leveraging interdisciplinary processes to create socially relevant, community-building projects.

"The studio recently designed the Bright Horizon Academy for children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Hyderabad. Built at the heart of the 800-year-old Golconda Fort, the principles were to preserve the existing terrain, to respect the built heritage of the fort and to ensure the sustainability of the project in the future.

"Fatima's work is essentially what she calls 'architecture without architects'. It also emphasises an open-source, participatory design process, where anyone can apply the system. Now DesignAware is researching how these processes can be applied to recyclable architecture, using strategies that are circular and sustainable."

Svitlana Zdorenko
Nikolsky Shopping Mall. Photo courtesy of Nikolsky

Svitlana Zdorenko, Ukraine – "We still care about each project as if it was our first"

"While many of the architects in the book are in the early stages of their careers, Svitlana Zdorenko is a veteran who has been practising for over 30 years, but still cares 'about each project as if it was our first'.

"She has designed over 100 buildings at the studio she co-founded with her husband – A. Pashenko Architects, which was one of the largest in the country before Russia's invasion. Her studio was hugely impacted, with several of her buildings shelled and staff joining the army.

"'It is amazing how this horrible disaster has rallied people,' she told us."

Patama Roonrakwit
TEN Bangkok housing. Photo courtesy of Patama Roonrakwit

Patama Roonrakwit, Thailand – "The most important thing is to get people involved in every step of the process"

"One of many architects we interviewed that highlighted the importance of participation, Thai architect Patama Roonrakwit has spent her entire career working to improve people's housing in underprivileged communities across South East Asia, establishing her studio Community Architects for Shelter and Environment (CASE) in 1997.

"'My way of working is to communicate with the user as much as I can,' she told us. 'So that I can understand them, they can understand me, and we don't waste anything, as we cannot afford to make mistakes.'

"Roonrakwit believes that influencing government and housing policy can have the greatest impact on people's lives. 'We need to look at the root of the problems,' she says. 'What we can do is encourage the government to listen and explain that you can spend less money to make better solutions.'"

Valérie Mavoungou
Ecolodge Kunda. Photo courtesy of Valérie Mavoungou

Valérie Mavoungou, Republic of the Congo – "We have to design in response to the place"

"One of a handful of women architects working in the Republic of the Congo, Valérie Mavoungou is the founder of the Pointe-Noire-based studio Atelier Tropical. With projects in four countries in the region, Mavoungou describes herself as a 'Pan-African architect'.

"With her work, she aims to discover and create architecture that has its roots in central Africa, but is modern and appropriate for a rapidly urbanising country. 'We cannot go back to what is traditional, we are all living in big cities,' she told us. 'We are globalised, but we cannot design a place in the same way we'd design in Europe.'"