The women designing new London11/09/18
Women have played a key role in shaping London’s skyline and streets for years and today’s generation of female architects are at the forefront of city-thinking
When Gillian Wearing’s sculpture of the suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett was unveiled in April this year to celebrate 100 years of British women voting, it was something of a double first. Not only is Wearing the first female artist to create a statue for Parliament Square, it is the first statue of a female subject to be placed there.
It also forms part of #BehindEveryGreatCity, a major new Mayoral campaign for gender equality, and one which we’re exploring in the following pages where we spotlight the women transforming London’s skyline – the capital’s best female architects.
Despite a visible and vibrant culture of female-led architectural design in London, too often the role of women in the architectural profession is underplayed – in the press and the history books.
Of course we have all heard of Zaha Hadid, and some will be familiar with Lina Bo Bardi, Alison Smithson, maybe Jane Drew. But how about Norah Aiton and Betty Scott of Aiton and Scott, who, in 1931, designed the steel-framed home of Aiton & Co, the engineering firm owned by Norah’s father? This early example of English Modernism is one of the first industrial buildings designed by a professional female partnership anywhere in the world.
Of course there are many more, and their exclusion from mainstream architectural history is unacceptable. General history has been overhauled significantly in recent times – just compare the BBC’s two versions of ‘Civilisation’, one first broadcast in 1969, the other in 2018, to see how history is changing – and architecture’s back-story must follow suit. This list is by no means comprehensive, but here are 25 of the best.