Partner at Hawkins\Brown, Nicola Rutt for the 2014 AJ Women in Architecture Awards
Nicola Rutt became a partner at Hawkins\Brown in 2010 after joining the practice in 2000. She leads a 15-strong team working on projects ranging from commercial developments to local community schemes. Rutt is currently leading the design team on the redevelopment of the International Broadcast Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for iCITY. Her project, the transformation of a Grade II-listed Victorian warehouse into an office for MTV in Camden, was shortlisted for the 2013 AJ Retrofit Awards.
Why did you choose architecture? I had a passion for drawing and making from a young age so I knew that I wanted a creative career. I also used to visit building sites with my father, who was a surveyor, where I became fascinated with the building process. Architecture became a natural choice for me from my early teens.
What is your design ethos? To design buildings with a social agenda that are rigorously detailed and that have a softness, through pattern, colour and art.
Which architects inspire you? Lina Bo Bardi.
What is your advice to aspiring female architects? Get plenty of work experience and get out to events and lectures to meet people. Follow your own interests. It makes you more rounded as an architect and introduces you to people outside of your usual environment. Remember to have fun - architecture can be incredibly rewarding.
Why do women leave the profession? It is probably due to the pressures of childcare, the long hours and the difficulty of balancing it all. There is also a real shortage of high-profile and senior female architects paving the way for the younger generation.
What is the biggest challenge facing women in architecture today? Changing the perception of many (not only men) that women do not make excellent architects. This will happen when we have more gender equality at board level, providing female role models who are promoting and supporting the next generation.
What is the best defence against sexism? Just be really good at what you do and if you face sexism, pull them up on it. It is not acceptable; it’s just sad.
Place of study Kingston University and University of Westminster
Current projects iCITY at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a new consulate for the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, a new science block for Dame Alice Owen’s School, and Drakes’ head office in Hackney
Clients iCITY, Embassy of the Republic of Poland, Derwent London, Dame Alice Owen’s School, Drakes