Founder of AOC, Daisy Froud for the 2014 AJ Women in Architecture Awards
Daisy Froud co-founded AOC in 2003 and took up the role as the practice’s head of participation in 2010. During 2013 the practice has completed a new build extension to St Saviour’s & St Olave’s Secondary School in Southwark and gained planning for housing and a community centre in Nunhead, as well as a cultural centre in Willesden Green. Froud sits on two London borough design review panels and is a built environment expert for CABE. She also teaches architectural history and theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture and at the University of Brighton.
Why did you choose architecture? I went into architecture in my mid 20s when, through reading theorists like Henri Lefebvre, I became aware of the ways in which power and agency are channelled through, and expressed by, space. As a non-professional myself, I wanted to be part of creating opportunities for my fellow citizens to play a significant and appropriate role in decision-making about buildings and places, informed by a consciousness of the potential implications of those decisions. I was particularly interested in the specific role of the architect in this activity, in conversation with the future user or inhabitant.
What is your design ethos? The design of the process is as important as the design of the formal outcome. You will only get the best possible outcome by placing that equal emphasis on process, and by carefully considering, and being conscious of, the way in which designs decisions are taken. In terms of design language, we believe in drawing upon existing narratives of place and site, as well as broader cultural narratives of inhabitation and expression, to source visual and spatial references to influence a formal outcome. We sometimes summarise this as a process of ‘sampling and synthesising.’
Which architects inspire you? Denise Scott Brown, Sarah Wigglesworth, Liza Fior and Doreen Massey
What would make women stay in the profession? All of us would benefit from more calm, measured working practices. In our practice it has tended to be the men who leave when they have children, probably for very similar reasons to those that make women leave.
What is the biggest challenge facing women in architecture today? The same as faces all of us working in architecture: how to respond to valid concerns and desires at the local or neighbourhood scale in the face of massive structuring forces that operate at a global level.
Place of study Cambridge and the University of London
Current projects a new community centre in Nunhead, south London; a new exhibition and learning space at the Wellcome Trust, London; new housing as part of the north-west Cambridge urban extension, collaborating with Cottrell & Vermeulen and Sarah Wigglesworth; and a primary school in Southwark
Clients London Borough of Southwark; Balfour Beatty; University of Cambridge; Royal Armouries; The Wellcome Trust; and the Barbican Art Gallery