Revolutionary female architects that shaped the Industry

Architecture has often been seen as an extremely male-dominated field. However, there are female architects who are changing the industry and are also working to ensure that young female architects feel inspired to keep going.

Eileen Gray (9th August 1878 – 31st October 1976) –  

Eileen Gray was an Irish architect and furniture designer wo became a pioneer of the modern movement in architecture. 

By 1921, Gray was romantically involved with Romanian architect and writer Jean Badovici. He encouraged her growing interest in architecture. From 1922/1923 to 1926 Gray created an informal architectural apprenticeship for herself as she never received any formal training as an architect. 

In 1926, she started work on a new holiday home near Monaco to share with Badovici. The house was given the enigmatic name of E-1027. It was code for the lovers’ names; the E standing for Eileen, the 10 for J, meaning Jean, the 2 for B standing for Badovici. And the 7 for G standing for Gray. 

E-1027 is a modernist villa in the Alpes-Maritimes department of France. It’s an L shaped, flat roofed villa with floor to ceiling windows and spiral staircases. It also had an open plan interior that mixed moving screens with fixed walls.  

Gray only ever completed three more architectural projects. A house for herself near Castellar, a studio apartment in Paris for Badovici, and a final renovation project in St Tropez—before she passed away in the ’70s. 

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Dame Zaha Hadid (31st October 1950 – 31st March 2016) – 

Dame Zaha Hadid was an Iraqi-British architect, artist, and designer, recognised as a major figure in architecture. 

For many years, Hadid was a “paper architect.” But during this time, she established her reputation through her drawings, paintings, and by teaching architecture internationally at schools. In the ’90s, her work was finally given the chance to be realised in physical form by way of the Vitra Fire Station. 

More work followed in Europe, each more ambitious than the next. Including the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Bergisel Ski-Jump on Bergisel Mountain in Innsbruck, Austria. The New York Times called the former the “most important American building to be completed since the Cold War” and marked the first American museum designed by a woman. 

A year after the completion of the art museum, Hadid was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2004. Not only was she the first woman to receive the prize, Hadid began to attract more media attention as well as higher profile clients. 

Denise Scott Brown (3rd October 1931 – Present) –  

Denise Scott Brown is considered to be one of the most highly influential female architects. She was then a partner at Venturi Scott Brown Architects. She shaped most of the 20th century’s architecture. Furthermore, Denise refers to herself as the grandmother of architecture. Some of her highly acclaimed designs are of buildings such as the Sainsbury Wing of the London’s National Gallery, Provincial Capitol Building of Toulouse and Seattle Art Museum.   

image by frank hanswijk, courtesy of venturi, scott brown and associates
main image by robert venturi, courtesy of venturi, scott brown and associates