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Emerging Woman Architect of the Year shortlist: Hana Loftus

Co-director of HAT Projects, Hana Loftus for the 2014 AJ Women in Architecture Awards

Hana Loftus founded Essex-based practice HAT Projects with Tom Grieve in 2007. In the past year the practice has completed a number of commissions including the £3.5 million Jerwood Gallery in Hastings, temporary structures for the reopening of the Olympic Park and a new-build development of affordable artists’ studios as part of High House Production Park in Purfleet, Essex. Loftus was also runner up in the inaugural AJ Writing Prize in 2011.

Concept section, Shoreditch Town Hall redevelopment

Concept section, Shoreditch Town Hall redevelopment

Why did you choose architecture? Unlike other creative disciplines, architecture affects people’s everyday lives, without them having any choice in the matter. I am a natural hard-worker, but also want to make a positive impact on the world - I needed to find a field that justified the effort I would put in. Though I’m still not sure that it does actually justify the effort!

What is your design ethos? We try to make projects appropriate to their clients and contexts - developing from close study of brief and site, as well as the observation of behaviour in different environments. I learned early on from working in theatre how little you sometimes need to do to create the right setting for a particular activity, or to create a particular atmosphere. This approach results in a very diverse set of projects, and we would like to keep it this way.

Which architects inspire you? Denise Scott Brown.

What is your advice to aspiring female architects? Take every opportunity to learn about as many fields as you can - avoid just being friends with other architects, keep an eye on the wider world.

What is the biggest challenge facing women in architecture? I am not sure that the challenge facing women in architecture is that different from the challenge facing women in any office-based career. It may be worsened by the challenges facing architecture as a discipline: the lack of a coherent political voice that says that architecture is fundamentally important as a social good, and tuition fees worsening an intake that is already over-balanced towards the privileged.

Staircase, High House artists’ studios

Staircase, High House artists’ studios

CV

Place of study Cambridge, Rural Studio in Alabama and London Metropolitan University

Current projects redevelopment of Gasworks Gallery and artist studios complex, south London; the renovation of Shoreditch town hall; and a rural housing development

Clients Jerwood Foundation, Thurrock Council and High House Production Park

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