How does the saying go? I am woman. Hear me roar. For women’s month, we recall and introduce some Asian women architects with astounding talent.
There’s no doubt that architecture is still a male-dominated industry. So, it’s not easy for women to gain the same spotlight male architects bask under. In the U.S., only 18% of the licensed architects are women. Even in this day and age, some women are still confronted with lower salaries, few career-building opportunities, and a lack of great mentors to help them grow in the industry. In celebration of women’s month, here’s a short compilation of just some of the most impactful women architects crashing waves against not just the American architecture industry, but also against the Asian architecture scene where these women hail their bloodlines from.
Famous for winning the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize (an award often referred to as “The Nobel of Architecture”), Sejima is the co-founder of Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates (SANAA) and has created other notable museums and buildings in Japan, Europe, and North America alongside her partner, Ryue Nishizawa. Together, they created unnervingly simple-looking projects that are collectively dominated by an airy, white aesthetic. some of their notable international works include the New Museum of New York City and the Louvre-Lens in France. Though these projects are already pieces of art in appearance alone, Sejima’s work explores the way architecture can impact how someone understands the world and themselves.
An architect and artist, Maya Lin is very successful in the territory of minimalist structures. Despite being minimalist, these projects are impressive and striking enough to evoke emotion and deep thoughts from the viewer. One great example of her work is the infamous Vietnam Veterans Memorial which is also known as The Wall in Washington, D.C. Awarded with the American Institute of Architects (AIA)’s 2007 25-year award (which is given to structures that prove its worth over time), it preserves the names of approximately 58,000 men and women who were killed or missing in action within a sleekly polished V-shaped granite wall.
Co-founder of Atelier Bow-Wow (one of Japan’s most renowned internationally operating studios), Kaijima is most recognized for design theories that introduce new ideas to urban studies and new concepts for the public space. So far, she’s famous alongside Yoshiahru Tsukomoto for their contributions to the book The Architectures of Atelier Bow-Wow: Behaviorology. Here, the duo highlights the challenges formulated by dense urban environments.
Among the many architects in the 21 century, Jamil is considered one of those to watch out for. A UK-trained architect who combines traditional elements with new ideas, Jamil is one of Malaysia’s best architects and is widely known for her work on the Bamboo Playhouse in Kuala Lumpur’s botanical gardens. As its name portrays, the Bamboo Playhouse is composed of bamboo ring walls with colored, writeable panels–a refreshing project in a city already dominated by soaring glass towers with metal frames.
These are just some women who have contributed to breaking the stereotype of architecture being a man-led industry. Even after renowned architect and 2004 Pritzker Prize winner, Zaha Hadid grabbed the spotlight for women architects, the industry still has yet to shed more light on talented women. Alongside these four architects, one must remember that there are more of these trailblazers who are capable of breaking through architecture to give women more equality in the industry. With them in the spotlight, it could be easier for women to step up to the challenge of creating earth-shaking projects. That, and it can make the industry welcome them better with open arms. After all, talent and innovation has no limit.