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Emerging Woman Architect of the Year shortlist: Maria Smith

Maria Smith is a founding director at Studio Weave

Studio Weave, an emerging London-based practice set up in 2006, has recently completed a number of high-profile projects, including a contemporary art installation at Kedleston Hall and the Civic Trust Award-winning Longest Bench Project. Maria Smith sat on the Southwark Design Review Panel for two years between 2010 and 2012 and has also taught at London Metropolitan University.

Why did you become an architect?

It sounds ridiculous, but I actually decided to become an architect when I was about six. I used to make models of buildings from my younger sisters’ nappy boxes. My parents then bought me a Fisher-Price architects set and I’ve stuck with it since then.

What is your design ethos?

I want the world to be joyful and to make the most of all its opportunities to shape itself. I love working with people who know what they’re doing, however niche that knowledge may be.

Which women architects inspire you?

She’s not an architect, but in terms of built environment professionals who are women, Jane Wernick is a hero of mine.

What is your advice to aspiring female architects?

My advice would be the same to male or female: set no restrictions on where your influences might come from, and work hard.

Why do women leave the profession?

I’ve done a bit of research: something like only 1 in 10 women who start studying architecture qualify (compared with 4 in 10 men). I imagine long hours and low pay are key factors. They affect men as well as women, which makes me wonder whether many women choose to leave for very sensible reasons.

Paleys upon Pilers, Aldgate

Paleys upon Pilers, Aldgate

Place of study The University of Bath, Technical University Delft and London Metropolitan University
Current projects A £2 million public realm regeneration scheme in Romford; a public realm and market regeneration project in Mitcham; a series of timber structures for two woodlands outside Swindon; a few other things in their early
stages, including a collaboration with dancers
Clients Niko - the Belgian market leader in switching materials; pedal-powered machine makers Electric Pedals; The Monster Supply Store. Local authorities around the country, including the City of London, Arun District Council, the London Boroughs of Havering and Merton and Swindon Borough Council; projects for arts and architecture festivals, including the London Festival of Architecture and Glastonbury






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