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Kathryn Findlay

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Women in Practice profile: Director, Ushida Findlay Architects

FIRST PROJECT I worked for Arata Isozaki on a natal clinic in Kyushu design ethos Read the issues, research them and respond to the situation. And make the solution practical, coherent and a beautiful spatial experience

ADVICE TO ASPIRING FEMALE ARCHITECTS Focus and be open to possibilities – don’t be put off by the aggression of others. Think things through, quietly get things done and communicate clearly, always taking into account the position of the other parties. The advantage we have as women, I think, is that we are natural mediators, not only between people but also between man and nature. Perhaps it’s our innate ability to nurture that gives us this sensibility. Either way, it’s a distinct advantage when it comes to communicating, negotiating and responding to clients, community, a site, etc

WHY WOMEN LEAVE It’s very gruelling and not as financially rewarding as it should be, given the time we put into it. Maybe more women leave the profession because they work that out faster that the remaining quota of men!

WHAT WOULD MAKE THEM STAY? I would make RIBA committees more accessible to a wider range of the profession and re-introduce a formal professional fee scale to minimise undercutting. Bargain-basement bidding puts pressure on people to work even harder and longer for diminishing returns and pay

INSPIRATION Christine Hawley, a brilliant teacher; Zaha Hadid’s extraordinary imagination; Farshid Moussavi’s self-confident ideas; Jane Wernick’s inspired insight; Eva Jiricna’s ability to create jewels; my daughter Miya Ushida’s practicality and aesthetic sensibility; Deborah Saunt’s articulacy; Jo Bacon’s ability to see the big picture; Sarah Wigglesworth’s intellectual rigour; Cany Ash’s forthright outspokenness

Place of study Architectural Association, University of Tokyo
Current projects Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond’s ArcelorMittal Orbit; York Art Gallery; Art Foundation, Doha, Qatar
Clients Contractors, private clients, museums and galleries, government authorities, developers, public authorities
Featured project ArcelorMittal Orbit client ArcelorMittal completed May 2012 budget £22.7 million

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