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Woman Architect of the Year shortlist: Adriana Natcheva

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Director of Groves Natcheva Architects, Adriana Natcheva for the 2014 AJ Women in Architecture Awards

Adriana Natcheva co-founded Groves Natcheva Architects in 2000. The practice completed a number of projects during 2013, including a £1.25 million mixed-use apartment scheme and a pair of cedar-clad residential towers, both in south London. Natcheva is currently working on the design of a new headquarters for a building company in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The practice’s work has been featured in Elle, The Sunday Times, The Evening Standard and The Guardian.

Street view, the Zog House, Queen’s Park, north London

Street view, the Zog House, Queen’s Park, north London

Why did you choose architecture? To turn creative thought into substance, to make it tangible and to do it on a substantial scale. I wanted my work to be enmeshed in the stream of life, to have its questions posed not by my imagination but by the realities of others, and for the answers to be given not in the abstract, but in material, lived-in form. Nothing else lets you do that.

What is your design ethos? Architecture must have the richness of the life it encloses: no more and no less. Just as life is polymorphous - in the philosophical jargon sense - so must be architecture. Crucially, it belongs to someone other than its author. It must be part of the people who inhabit it, or else it becomes just a stage, turning the life of its occupants into a reality show without an audience. My desire is to try to change the language of inexpensive building, to rid it of clichés and stock phrases, to show that personalising a space need not be a luxury: it can be done for everyone.

Which architects inspire you? Eileen Gray and Zaha Hadid.

What is your advice to aspiring female architects? Be relaxed in your power, it is no more surprising than the power of men.

Why do women leave the profession? They do not feel able to work as freely as men do.

What would make them stay? Though we all talk about sexism in the profession, we need to think about what drives it in the first place. One has to remember the domains that architecture interfaces with: building and property development. It is the male dominance there that is the real driver, and that is what we must turn our attention to.

Concept design for new office building in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Concept design for new office building in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Place of study University of Cambridge

Current projects a head office for a building company in Brazil, a private house in London and 15 residential developments across London

Clients Ilchester Estates, Southern Property Group, Bernard Construction, Solid Space and private clients

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