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Rachel Haugh

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Women in practice profile: founding partner/director, Ian Simpson Architects

WHY YOU BECAME AN ARCHITECT I was introduced to three books as a child, namely Peter Blake’s monographs on Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright. The books are in our office library

BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION It was suggested to me early in my career that I would become part of ‘the velvet trouser brigade’, a direct reference to the persistent and sad misconception that women are best dealing with the more cosmetic aspects of architecture

WHY WOMEN LEAVE The extent of commitment required and the classic female ‘juggle’ of family and career. Apart from the obvious effect of stepping out of the profession at a key time to have children, it’s very difficult to balance the demands of a family with leading an architectural project where an immediate response may be required five days (at least) a week. Inevitably, women often fall into a supporting role, which generates greater flexibility, but also frustration in terms of career advancement

WHAT WOULD MAKE THEM STAY? Removing the expectation that good work can only be produced by working long, anti-social hours

CURRENT CHALLENGE Preconceptions about women and their role, held by the construction industry in general

BEST DEFENCE AGAINST SEXISM Ignore it and do your job to the best of your ability

INSPIRATION Jane Drew visited my university and, as a student, I found her captivating. Against all odds – she paid her fees at the AA by teaching French in the evening, then found it difficult to find architectural work as many practices did not employ women – she designed and built outstanding pieces of architecture across the world

BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED The poem If by Rudyard Kipling, which ironically ends with: ‘And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!’

Place of study University of Bath
Current projects A variety ranging in scale from £1 million to £250 million construction value encompassing masterplans through to inner-city new-builds
Clients Ask Property Developments, Beetham Organisation, Berkeley Group, Downing Developments, KMDA, Lend Lease, Manchester City Council, Treasury Holdings, Trinity College, Urban Splash, University College London, University of Manchester, West Properties – a combination of private and public sector clients
Featured project Newcastle University Business School
Client Downing Developments
Completed Spring 2011
Budget £24.5 million
£/sqm £246 (budget includes basement for larger site)

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