Woman Architect of the Year shortlist: Clare Wright
Clare Wright, founding partner of Wright & Wright Architects is inspired by van Heyningen, Jiřičná and Hadid
In 2012, Wright & Wright Architects’ main focus has been the redesign of the Architectural Association and designs of new libraries for Magdalen and St John College’s in Oxford. Wright has also been influential in supporting the threatened Women’s Library in Whitechapel, which the practice completed in 2002. She sits on the CABE English Heritage Urban Panel, on the CABE Design Council Review Panel for Crossrail and is an external examiner at Cambridge University. Wright is on the Building Regulations Advisory Committee and her research has led to changes to designs for the disabled in UK housing.
Why did you become an architect?
I discovered great buildings like the Glasgow School of Art and Gillespie Kidd & Coia’s St Bride’s Church, East Kilbride. I found drawing deeply satisfying and was interested in and excited by ideas.
What is your design ethos?
A good building is the resolution of many factors that you mull over for a number of years. It encompasses client aspirations, the site, a societal response and budget.
Which women architects inspire you?
Joan Lardner, a family friend because she was a sexy, sassy lady who designed a house with breathtaking views of the sea for her children and lawyer husband. Recently, Diane Haigh for her architectural interests starting with Christ’s Hospital; Kate Heron for success through collaboration in teaching; Jo van Heyningen for her humanity; Eva Jiřičná for the elegance of her work; Zaha Hadid for her success.
What is your advice to aspiring female architects?
There is a balance between being obliging and promoting self-interest, which many women find difficult to manage. Be as straightforward about things as you can.
Why do women leave the profession?
Reflecting on work-life balance having had children, they realise they can have a satisfying, much better paid and less stressful job doing something else.
What would make them stay?
Professional appreciation, flexibility and money. We have always had people in the office working part-time, teaching as well as caring for children. My husband and I have done both.
Place of study The Mackintosh for Parts 1 and 2, Architectural Association for Part 3
Current projects The Architectural Association Masterplan; the Library and Archive for the Church of England at Lambeth Palace; King Edward VI School (Shakespeare’s School), Stratford Upon Avon; the Library for Magdalen College, Oxford; the Library for St John’s College, Oxford; and the Wren Exhibition Centre
Clients The Architectural Assocation, Balfour Beatty, Church Commissioners of England, King Edward VI School, Stratford Upon Avon, Magdalen College, Morgan Sindall and St John’s College