For a century and a half, women have been proving their passion and talent for design and architecture in a male-dominated profession. However, there are female architects who are challenging every day the profession’s boys’ club and have made a profound impact on architecture as we know it today.

Lina Bo Bardi

Lina dedicated her work to a mission: to explore the social possibilities of design and promote a new way of collective life. She searched for strong design concepts and relied on simple formal vocabulary, but with parallel expressive use of materials that highlighted her sensibility. For her, architecture should be considered “not as built work, but as possible means to be and to face different situations”.

One of her most emblematic buildings is the SESC Pompeia, realized in 1982, in Sao Paolo, Brazil. It is a converted factory, with three huge concrete towers, featuring aerial walkways and asymmetrical portholes in the place of windows. With its radical design and the almost brutal approach of the industrial cell, Bo Bardi brought to life her vision for the world, what she called a “socialist experiment”.

Lina Bo Bardi: Sesc Pompéia, São Paulo

Photo credit: revistaprojeto.com.br

Maya Lin

Maya Lin is an architect, sculptor, and land artist. With nearly 30 years of practice, she has completed a series of projects including large-scale art installations, residential and institutional architecture, and memorials. Her work is emphasized on nature and sustainability followed by minimal design and her ideal of making a place for individuals within the landscape. She draws inspiration for her sculpture and architecture from culturally diverse sources, including Japanese gardens, Hopewell Indian earthen mounds, and works by American earthworks artists of the 60s and 70s.

At age 21, she became the youngest architect and first woman, to design a memorial on the National Mall. Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a two-acre plot framed by a wall, displaying the names of all the American soldiers lost in conflict. Her design was considered controversial and insulting, “a black scar” as a Vietnam veteran described it, and after many delays, it was finally built-in 1982. Today it is recognized as the definition of a modern approach to war, with its minimal, unsentimental, and clear-eyed concept.

Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Momoyo Kaijima

Momoyo Kaijima is the co-found of the Tokyo-based architecture office Atelier Bow-Wow, one of Japan’s leading firms. The firm is well known for its domestic and cultural architecture and its research exploring the urban conditions of micro, ad hoc architecture. With her partner Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, they have been experimenting with design theories that introduce new vocabulary to the urban studies and new concepts for the public space, such as architectural behavior log and micro-public-space. Their projects range from houses to public and commercial buildings and public artworks, in Japan as well as in Europe and the USA.

Project: MUJI Yokkaichi

Photo: Atelier Bow-Wow

Shahira Fahmy

Fahmy is an architect whose work strives to make a balance between new spatial concepts and existing context: culture, tradition, urban morphology. The Cairo-based architect is leading the way for Egyptian architecture by demonstrating that architectural design can and should elevate the public realm, with a holistic approach that combines contextual analysis, playful experimentation, and an ethos of social responsibility.

Block 36, Cairo / Shahira H. Fahmy Architects
Photo: archiDATUM
Amanda Levete

Amanda Levete is a RIBA Stirling Prize-winning architect, founder, and principal of AL_A, an international award-winning design and architecture studio. AL_A’s approach to design balances the intuitive with the strategic, restless research, innovation, collaboration, and attention to detail. They explore constantly the application of new materials and techniques on architecture and design and look for new ways to create significant and positive impacts beyond the building, on the community, and city context.

EDP Cultural Centre, Lisbon

Photo credit: AL_A

The article is based on materials published in arch2o.com