8 women-empowering messages at 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

8 women-empowering messages at 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. 8 women-empowering messages at 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Venice 2018 – In universities female architecture students are about 60% but less than 30% is registered as an architect and less than 10% is at the head of an office. Worldwide, female architects are under-represented, underpaid, discriminated and harassed. Archipanic collected 8 women-empowering messages by leading professionals at 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

RELATED STORIES: Read more about gender equality on Archipanic…


We will not stand silent” – Gender equality flashmob in Venice

Pritzker Prize director Martha Thorne

Photo by @farshidmoussavi via IG

Photo by @farshidmoussavi via IG.

Odile Decq, Jeanne Gang, Allison Brooks, Farshid Moussavi, Benedetta Tagliabue and 100 other female professionals joined a flash mob at the Biennale waving their fans in the air as a symbol of their support. The event was kicked off by Pritzker Prize director Martha Thorne who read out the Voices of Women manifesto.

We will not stand silent. Women are not a minority in the world but women are still a minority in architecture’s field. We want it to reflect better the world in which we live [and call to an end the] pervasive prejudices and disrespectful behaviour that appears to be systemic in our culture and discipline.


Set up a structure that suits you and the way you think”

Yvonne Farrel and Shelly McNamara

Entrance of the FREESPACE exhibition at the Central Pavilion at Giardini - Photo: courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia.

Entrance of the FREESPACE exhibition at the Central Pavilion at Giardini – Photo: courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia.

For the second time, female architects curate Venice Architecture Biennale. Yvonne Farrell and Shelly McNamara, co-founders of Dublin-based studio Grafton Architects, are known for university buildings such as Bocconi in Milan and UTEC in Lima.

An advice for aspiring female architects? Set up a structure that suits you and the way you think… And let your voice be heard”. Said the architects in an interview with The Architecture Journal. Their selection for the FREESPACE exhibition includes major projects by leading female professionals across the globe.


We have to fight against harassment, against discrimination, against everything

Odile Decq

Odile Decq @ Venice Biennale 2018 - Photo by Italo Rondinella courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

Photo by Italo Rondinella courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

We have to care about the fact that women are not strong enough and not present enough.” Said French architect Odile Decq to Dezeen just before Venice Biennale where she presents her work for the Opera Garnier restaurant and a residential project in Barcelona called Antares.

In the past, I was uncomfortable playing the role of ‘the female architect’. But I have now realised how important it is for women to become role models for the younger generation”.


“We can all change the status quo”

Alison Brooks

"ReCasting" by Alison Brooks Architects - © Luke Hayes

© Luke Hayes.

We’re convinced that the practice of architecture must evolve […] to create an inclusive profession where there are no social or gender-based boundaries.” Says Alison Brooks who sponsor the Women In Architecture programme raising awareness of the often unrecognised contributions women have made to contemporary practice and historically. “The WIA – Women in Architecture campaign is not only for women’s equality, but for the quality of the built environment and the future of architecture.

In Venice, the studio created a large-scale, site specific installation that simulates the critical freespaces of their housing projects through four inhabitable ‘totems’ that invite exploration, emerging from a unifying plinth to frame an amphitheatre and collective gathering space.


I am not a female architect. I am an architect

Dorte Mandrup

Icefjord Centre by Dorte Mandrup in Venice - Photo by Andrea Avezzù, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia.

Photo by Andrea Avezzù, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia.

Dorte Mandrup believes that “female architects” shouldn’t be promoted as such so that women can be seen as more than second class citizens. “When we talk about gender, we tend to talk about women. Men do not really have a gender. They are just… neutral. Non-gender. That is why you do not recognise the term “male architect”. It just goes without saying.”

In Venice she takes the Biennale to an arctic extreme with a sensuous installation. A model of the Icefjord Centre in in Greenland is surrounded by a white environment where mist and glacier sounds tune tune with the colours of Arctic wilderness. [Read more…]


“The point is that we are often the only one woman”

Benedetta Tagliabue

Instasllation by Miralles Tagliabue EMBT - Photo by Francesco Gali, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia.

Photo by Francesco Gallli.

Professionally speaking, women skills are equal says Benedetta Tagliabue in an editorial on Sole 24 Ore. “The point is that we are often the only one woman. And that is quite boring! In the construction site we can can be very authoritative, and give directions through the voice of a male colleague could help.”

The Italian architect co-founder of Embt – Enric Miralles Benedetta Tagliabue joins the FREESPACE exhibition with an installation recreating a communal lounge area surrounded by weaved geometrical shapes.


Male-dominated architecture industry is undergoing “dramatic change” 

Elizabeth Diller of DS+R

 US Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2018 - Photo by Italo Rondinella courtesy of La Biennakle di Venezia.

Photo by Italo Rondinella courtesy of La Biennakle di Venezia.

Elizabeth Diller of NY-based studio Diller Scorfidio + Renfro is the only architect named on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of 2018. “Architecture has been male-dominated forever and I am a grateful beneficiary of the women’s movement,” Diller told Dezeen. “It’s a sign of a dramatic change in the profile of what an architect looks like.”

At the US Pavilion, the studio presented a video installation showing how electricity reaches touristic places or industrial complexes instead of serving local communities across the globe.


“I am just interested in making architecture”

Kazuyo Sejima

Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa SANAA at Venice Biennale 2018 .- Photo by Andra Avezzù courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia.

Photo by Andra Avezzù courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia.

For the Japanese female architect only the third thing counts. “Being an architect. I am just interested in making architecture.”

This year, Kazuyo Sejima – – co-founder of SANAA, Pritzker Prize recipient and Venice Biennale former curator – created GuruGuru, a poetic installation made of several layers of transparent acrylic which “lets the visitors perceive the space in different ways”. The transparent circular structure distorts viewers’ surroundings as they walk around it depending on time, light and other people’s presence.


Photo by @rebelarchitette via IG.

Photo by @rebelarchitette via IG.

• RELATED STORIES: Read more about Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 on Archipanic…

"ReCasting" by Alison Brooks Architects - © Luke Hayes

Alison Brooks installation in Venice – © Luke Hayes.