Ángela García de Paredes, Sandra Barclay, Biba Dow and Stephanie Macdonald all co-founded their own architectural practices which have been turning out award-winning designs for the last twenty to thirty years. This year, they have all been shortlisted for the Woman Architect of the Year award. This award is presented by the Architects’ Journal and the Architectural Review and honors an outstanding project completed within the last year by a visionary female architect. The award hopes to inspire change in the architectural profession and promote role models for young women.Ángela García de Paredes
Ángela García de Paredes was shortlisted for her redesign of three houses that were surrounded by the walls of a 15th century castle, situated in the foothills of Spain’s Sierra de Gredos. With Ignacio Pedrosa, Paredes established the architectural firm Paredes Pedrosa in 1990. Based in Madrid, as a principal architect, Paredes has been involved in many projects and has been repeatedly recognised for her remarkable designs. Most recently, her practice was awarded the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts by the Spanish Government.
Paredes was nominated for her design for the Twin Houses in Oropesa. Three small houses in ruins, embedded in ancients walls and arches of the city, were transformed into two modern, spacious homes. Working within the constrictions of heritage protection, the small rooms of the three original houses have been opened out and connected to maximise natural light and space. Most of the original brickwork has been kept and the original ceiling tiles were replaced after the roof was lifted a meter higher. Built for a brother and a sister, the two asymmetrical houses themselves feel like siblings – two variations of the same design elements within a small space; connected and overlapping.
The second nominee, Sandra Barclay, was shortlisted for her design of the Museu de Sitio (Paracas Museum). Like Paredes, this project was undertaken by the architectural firm that Barclay co-founded, Barclay & Crousse. Commissioned by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture, the Paracas Museum site is a very important biological and landscaping reserve of Peruvian coastal desert. The structure is built from salt-resistant pozzolan cement. The reddish colour and the treatment of the material reflects the pre-Columbian ceramics within the museum’s collection. Containing archaeological artefacts and within such a historically important reserve, it makes sense to have rebuilt the museum upon the site of its predecessor, which was destroyed in an earthquake in 2007. The long lines and low-lying facade of Barclay’s design make the structure look grounded, emphasising the many layers of history upon which it stands.
Images: Erieta Attali, JP Crousse https://www.barclaycrousse.com/#/paracas-museum/
The last two finalists are British architects; Biba Dow and Stephanie Macdonald. Along with Alun Jones, Biba Dow founded an award-winning, London based practice in 2000. Dow has been nominated for her recent work on the Garden Museum in London which is housed in a church building. Again, like the Twin Houses, there is a focus on the precision of the new and the patina of the old, bringing character and unique charm through the combination of colours and textures across the decades. Working within the constrictions of the historical building, in order to preserve the protected trees and tombs, Biba Dow and her team have constructed creative solutions within the original space.
Images: Anthony Coleman, Dow Jones Architects. https://www.dowjonesarchitects.com/projects/garden-museum-phase-2/
Stephanie Macdonald is shortlisted for her design of the Cowan Court at the University of Cambridge. Cowan Court is 68-room hall residence within Churchill College, a college that experienced a rapid structural expansion during the post-war period. This design shifts the picturesque Brutalism of the early 1960s into contemporary times. Unlike the other three nominated designs, Macdonald was not restricted by conservation efforts. The design, however, pays homage to many of the classic features of the original college, such as the bay windows and the overall footprint of the building.
Having co-founded their own architectural practices and being involved in a wide range of projects, all four of these finalists are worthy of the title of Architect of the Year.
Images: Johan Dehlin, https://www.6a.co.uk/projects/selected/cowan-court