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Julia King named Emerging Woman Architect of the Year

Sole practitioner and PhD candidate Julia King has won the prestigious AJ Emerging Woman Architect of the Year Award

The researcher and designer, who is currently setting up practices in both New Delhi and London, saw off fierce competition to scoop the award for architects and architectural designers who have been in their current role for less than five years.

King, whose work focuses on the future of urban development, was described by the judges as ‘truly inspiring’.

The British/Venezuelan has already designed and built a sewer for 322 low-income houses in New Delhi and is regenerating the Taj East drain which runs through slum areas near the Taj Mahal.

Judge and V&A director Moira Gemmill said: ‘Her work has great resonance internationally. She came across as someone who is very driven, very smart and very capable of getting things done often in very difficult circumstances.’

Peabody director Claire Bennie praised the ‘practical concern’ of King’s work, while Landmark Trust director and women in architecture judge, Anna Keay described her projects as ‘life-changing’. She said: ‘[Julia King] is a woman who is getting things done’.

Architect Hannah Corlett, director of up-and–coming London-based Assemblage, received the commendation. The other shortlisted architects were Aranta Ozeata Cortazar of Spanish practice TallerDE2 architects, Angela Dapper of Denton Corker Marshall, Daisy Froud of AOC, Hana Loftus of HAT Projects, Yeoryia Manolopoulou of 2013 Stephen Lawrence Prize-winning AY Architects, and Nicola Rutt of Hawkins\Brown

Corlett co-founded Assemblage back in 2003, and in the past year the practice has won a string of high-profile competitions including the international contest for the new $1 billion Iraqi parliament building.

Last year’s winner of the Jane Drew Prize Eva Jiricna praised all the shortlisted emerging women. She added: ‘It is really encouraging that there are so many bright young women architects and that they have got their chance, and that they have taken their chances and got on with it.

‘I’m sure the future of architecture is bright if these women are going to hold the flag in the next generation and the next ten years to come.’

Celebrating the ROCA-sponsored AJ Women in Architecture campaign, which is now in its third year, the awards ceremony held at London’s Langham hotel today (07.02.14) also included a keynote speech from Hopkins Architects co-founder Patty Hopkins.

Q+A with Julia King

Why did you choose architecture? At school I had many interests and I saw architecture as a course which offered the opportunity to explore many disciplines, from physics to art. I still very much enjoy this aspect. However, most of all I wanted to be an architect because I believed, and still do, that architecture can be used as a tool to improve lives.

What is your design ethos? Doing something isn’t always better than doing nothing. Good architecture doesn’t always result in a building. There is a difference between complicated for its own sake (particularly enabled by the computer), and something that has layers of meaning and cultural depth.

Which architects inspire you? Anna Heringer and Suzanne Hall.

What is your advice to aspiring female architects? The same as to aspiring male architects: be prepared to do a lot of boring work if you aren’t prepared to push boundaries, be scared and take risks.

Why do women leave the profession? Because it isn’t worth it to work the hours for the pay.

What would make them stay? Better pay and shorter hours. There is a culture in architecture that you have to work long hours, which is counterproductive, inefficient and a waste of money - if this could change I think more women would stay.

What is the biggest challenge facing women in architecture? An architect’s career is kicking off at a time when most women want to have children. Thus women are effectively cut off. I also think there is another challenge facing women in architecture: I call it the ‘bullshit factor’. Statistically, far more men than women apply for jobs for which they are underqualified and consistently punch above their weight. This is part of a culture which celebrates men for being gung-ho, but when a woman does this she is thought of as aggressive or cut-throat.

Prototype pre-fab core house and water kiosk at Savda Gherra resettlement colony

Prototype pre-fab core house and water kiosk at Savda Gherra resettlement colony

Curriculum vitae

Place of study Architectural Association and London Metropolitan University

Current projects Housing projects in Savda Ghevra; improvement of a 5km stretch of the Taj East Drain; setting up a research unit of the NGO Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence; two week-long lecture tour of India including Delhi, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Jaipur, Bhopal and Mumbai organised by the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

Clients Sir Dorabji Tata Trust; Agra Municipal Corporation; CURE; Mahila Housing Trust and the Savda Ghevra slum resettlement colony

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