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Emerging Woman Architect of the Year shortlist: Aranta Ozaeta Cortazar

Principal of TallerDE2, Aranta Ozaeta Cortazar for the 2014 AJ Women in Architecture Awards

Aranta Ozaeta Cortázar co-founded the Spanish practice TallerDE2 back in 2007 while still a student. The practice’s work is mainly split between Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK. She has had an impressive 2013, with the practice’s first built project - a childminding centre in Selb, Bavaria, winning the International Bauwelt Prize for first work and being selected for the XII Spanish Architecture and Urbanism Biennale BEAU 2013. She is also a guest lecturer at the Architectural Association, the Hochschule Coburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany and at the University of Catania in Sicily.

Competition-winning scheme for winery, Villarrica, Spain

Competition-winning scheme for winery, Villarrica, Spain

Why did you choose architecture? I became an architect because I like to question my surroundings and because I wanted to find answers that lead us to establish different relationships with our environment. I enjoy imagining links among apparently unrelated points and building them. I understand ‘being an architect’ as a balance between research, teaching and professional practice.

What is your design ethos? I do not believe in imposing ‘genius’ ideas, but I believe in proposing adaptive systems. I design projects as flexible, with adaptable working frames where obstacles are understood not as problems, but as challenges.

Which architects inspire you? Izaskun Chinchilla - principal partner of Izaskun Chinchilla Architects and senior teaching fellow at the Bartlett School of Architecture - because she is developing a successful balance between teaching, research and practice, while her built architecture is personal, brave and innovative.

What is your advice to aspiring female architects? Nowadays there are many different ways of being an architect, for example as a freelancer, collaborator of an office, or specialised consultant. There is also a wide range of specialisations - urbanism, landscaping, construction and sustainability. So I advise aspiring architects to choose the profile best suited to their goals.

What is the biggest challenge facing women in architecture? The biggest challenge is moving on with the work started by previous women and colleagues in order to normalise our participation in every field of architecture. Scientifically, it is proven that men and women are different; our brains work differently. So I believe that we as women might develop brilliant work that combines the best of what makes us similar - humanity - and the best of what make us singular - femininity.

Interior view, Selb childminder centre

Interior view, Selb childminder centre


Place of study Technical University of Madrid

Current projects An urban strategy for the regeneration of Selb, Bavaria; a youth club and hostel in Selb, Bavaria; a Passivhaus in Zamora, Spain; experimental housing in Selb, Bavaria; a vehicle inspection building in La Rioja, Spain and houses in Madrid and Zamora, Spain

Clients Europan Deutschland, Bavarian Ministry of Building and Transport, Selb City Council, Bilbao City Council, Rothschild Group/Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, Vega Sicilia Group, Wineries Señorío de Villarrica, Bilbao Jardín Foundation

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