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Anna Liu

Women in practice profile: director, Tonkin Liu

FIRST PROJECT Brooklyn Productive Park with Peter Lynch in 1991

DESIGN ETHOS Architecture is how we live, how we relate to others, and how we relate to nature

BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION That women are not good with technical details. Why not? Why can’t they be? Architecture is a craft like any other, only larger and involving a more complex myriad of people

ADVICE TO ASPIRING FEMALE ARCHITECTS Build up, keep up, enjoy: build up your skills, keep up your confidence, and enjoy the breadth of architecture

WHY WOMEN LEAVE Architecture is a tough and male-orientated profession. It is extremely difficult for women to find roles that are not marginalised but genuinely fulfilling

WHAT WOULD MAKE THEM STAY? Celebrate all the roles of women architects, and broaden the remit of architectural culture. I went to an all-women college because I wanted to be in an environment where women were expected to excel in all kinds of roles

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK Pursue work that interests you, relish the longevity of architecture; it can still flourish for you later in life

ON CHILDREN Keeping your skills up is very important. When our son was very young, someone said to me, ‘It gets easier when they’re older’. When your children are older you can learn new skills, through them and with them

CURRENT CHALLENGE Today, most men still speak with more authority than women. People therefore presume that female architects cannot speak with authority to male contractors on site. Women need to tackle technical details and speak with more confidence

ON SEXISM The digital age will transform the way we work and free us from remnants of the medieval, male-organised building industry. Women: embrace the tools and craft of the digital age, to inform the beauty of construction!

BEST DEFENCE AGAINST SEXISM Be brave and passionate about what you do. Don’t be concerned with what other people think of you and don’t be afraid to stand out

BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED The architect Billie Tsien gave me a really hard time at an interview. I was torn apart and put back together again, fitter and stronger. What she did was the best thing anyone has ever done for me. Women have to work much harder than men to get to the same place

Place of study Columbia Graduate School of Architecture
Current projects A family house in Dover, Kingston’s Ancient Market Area, a cardboard disaster-relief shelter Clients City of London; Kingston, Islington, Kent councils; CABE; TfL
Featured project Rain Bow Gate
Client Burnley Council
Completed September 2011
Budget £120,900
£/sqm £2,000
www.tonkinliu.co.uk

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