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Emerging Woman Architect of the Year shortlist: Yeoryia Manolopoulou

Founder of AY Architects, Yeoryia Manolopoulou for the 2014 AJ Women in Architecture Awards

Yeoryia Manolopoulou is a co-founder of AY Architects. In 2013, the practice’s building for Montpelier Community Nursery won the Stephen Lawrence Prize. Treasured by the local community, the building has been shortlisted for the Camden Design Award and the People’s Choice Award. This year AY Architects also completed a small library for Torriano Infants School, also in Camden, and won a commission for the RIBA Regent Street Windows Project. Manolopoulou was appointed the Bartlett’s director of architectural research in 2012.

The House of Flags, installation in Parliament Square as part of 2012 Olympic Games

The House of Flags, installation in Parliament Square as part of 2012 Olympic Games

Why did you choose architecture? To bring generous and beautiful spaces into people’s everyday lives, while saying something about architecture’s role in society and culture.

What is your design ethos? I’m interested in the poetic potential of architecture and the aesthetic experience of spaces, and looking for that moment when architecture almost ‘disappears’.

Which architects inspire you? Lina Bo Bardi, Kazuyo Sejima, Anne Lacaton of Lacaton & Vassal; Yui Tezuka of Tezuka Architects, Momoyo Kaijima of Atelier Bow-Wow.

What is your advice to aspiring female architects? It is never too late to start or to come back to architecture.

Why do women leave the profession? There are many reasons for this, but personally I would insist on two. The first reason has to do with education and the second with money. I’m puzzled by the gender divisions and comparisons that happen in this country even before women and men enter university and the profession. This is a problem and leads to the paradox that the special recognition of female ability in education is then forgotten in a society where most professions are dominated by men. The second major factor is, of course, the cost of childcare and the fact that good, affordable childcare provision is so rare.

What is the biggest challenge facing women in architecture today? The profession has always been difficult. I think one way to overcome the related stress is to develop good collaborations and mixed-gendered partnerships, where skills can be combined and people can complement each other.

What is the best defence against sexism? To show with your work and actions that sexism is nonsense.

Ruskin Park House, Herne Hill, south London

Ruskin Park House, Herne Hill, south London

CV

Place of study National Technical University of Athens and the Bartlett School of Architecture

Current projects a redevelopment of the New Charlton Community Centre in Woolwich and bidding for various school and housing projects

Clients Camden Community Nurseries, Torriano Infant School and the Greater London Authority

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