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Woman Architect of the Year shortlist: Mary Duggan

Founder of Duggan Morris Architects, Mary Duggan is inspired by Kazuyo Sejima’s ‘delicate approach to materials, detail connections, texture and light’

Mary Duggan co-founded Duggan Morris Architects in 2004. Since then the practice has won the RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize for Kings Grove and the Manser Medal for Hampstead Lane. It was nominated for the 2012 Mies van der Rohe Award. In 2012, the practice also won an international competition held by the Architecture Foundation to design a floating cinema in East London. Duggan is currently working on a £2.4 million office conversion in Shoreditch, creating contemporary office suites and a new sports and swimming pool complex for an all-girl special needs school in Buckinghamshire.

Why did you become an architect?

I was swept up in the ‘Girls in Science’ movement in the ’80s. I had a genuine fascination with physics and loved art. This naturally led to a pursuit of drawing and then architecture.

What is your design ethos?

Working primarily in London, we believe buildings can be heavy: bound to the grain of London, the soil and urban landscape. But certain conditions permit the opposite reaction, light delicate buildings.

Which women architects inspire you?

Kazuyo Sejima for her delicate approach to materials, detail connections, texture and light. Ray Eames for transcending architecture into product, furniture and critical theory.

What is your advice to aspiring female architects?

The industry is fraught with economic strain, which has impacted on opportunities, salaries and procurement. It’s worth making sure that you fully understand what is in store.

Why do women leave the profession?

I suspect the majority leave as they want to spend time with their children. Some will not have found a way to function in the profession on a part-time basis. Those who do may struggle to justify the relative expense for childcare.

What would make them stay?

A career plan that understands that there are certain roles which will struggle to sustain a part-time position, but there are others that can.

What is the biggest challenge facing women in architecture?

Architecture schools need to recognise the diversity of skills required. Too much education is left to practice post-graduation.

Curtain Road HQ by Duggan Morris Architects

Curtain Road HQ by Duggan Morris Architects

Place of study Brighton University, East Sussex; The Bartlett School of Architecture
Current projects Lead presence on the delivery of Curtain Road HQ and Alfriston School Pavilion, which are both on site
Clients Alfriston School; Vitcorp; Cathedral Group; Maudsley Foundation; Derwent London; ISIS; Stanhope; Threadneedle; The London Legacy; RACC; Camden Council; private investors





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