Olga Felip, co-founder of Catalonia-based practice Arquitecturia, has won the prestigious AJ Emerging Woman Architect of the Year award
Architect Maria Smith, the co-founder of up-and-coming London based practice Studio Weave received the commendation. See the full shortlist here.
Award judge Zaha Hadid described Felip’s work as ‘sharp, edgy and elegant’. Fellow jury member Rafael Viñoly added: ‘The fact that she’s been able to produce this body of work with this level of consistency… I’m extremely happy for her to be recognised.’
Judge Paul Monaghan of AHMM agreed: ‘With this incredibly skillful and elegant portfolio for someone so young, goodness knows in 20 years time the scale and quality of the work she’ll be producing’.
Felip is studying a PhD at Barcelona’s School of Architecture and is a director of Architects for Architecture, an organisation promoting architecture as an instrument of progress. The architect, who will represent Catalonia at the next Venice Architecture Biennale, is the second winner of the AJ’s Emerging Woman Architect of the Year award. Last year the accolade was scooped by John McAslan + Partners director Hannah Lawson (see AJ 20.04.2012).
A Q&A with Olga Felip
Why did you become an architect? As a child I spent many hours playing with templates of letters, furniture, huge rolls of tracing paper, Rotring pens, and compasses. That was my world and I never considered being anything else but an architect.
What is your design ethos? Respect for the material forerunners; social commitment and respect for people; use of materials from the existing structure and materials of earth and fire, loaded with meaning and memory; textures which over time take on a patina of age; an ability to experiment and innovate focused on the relationship between material and people without intermediaries; voluntary restraint in formal approaches and economy of resources.
Which women architects inspire you? Not an architect, but a designer and businesswoman, Nani Marquina wanted to design rugs and made it a reality by putting into practice values such as observation, innovative endeavour, communication, emotion and knowing how to contemporise traditional craftsmanship. Today Nani Marquina is one of the leading rug manufacturing firms. There is so much to learn from her success and it is not so different from our task as architects.
What is your advice to aspiring female architects? As my final project tutor told me: ‘be prudent but fearless’.
Why do women leave the profession? They leave when they get married and have children. But we need to change that, as it is possible to handle both family and a career.
Place of study ETSAB - the Barcelona Higher Technical School of Architecture
Current projects The Law Courts of Balaguer, currently under construction; preliminary studies for Barcelona’s Sant Pau Square; a plan for recovering the four rivers of Girona; an industrialised system of houses for Sifera
Clients The Catalan Government; the Town Halls of Tortosa, Girona, Caldes de Malavella, l’Escala and Ascó; private clients