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Emerging Woman Architect of the Year shortlist: Jillian Jones

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Jillian Jones of DRDH Architects has been shortlisted for the 2015 Emerging Woman Architect of the Year Award

Jillian Jones joined DRDH Architects in 2009, following the practice’s competition win for the £112 million Stormen concert hall and library scheme in Bodø, Norway. As senior architect and team leader, Jones had a pivotal role in the design and delivery of the arts centre, which opened to the public in 2014. She led a small and relatively inexperienced team to complete the complex project on time and within budget in an unfamiliar environment. Last year she also won the job to overhaul Sheffield’s Site Gallery, seeing off competition from De Matos Ryan, ZCD Architects, Bauman Lyons Architects, Assemble and dRMM. The project will treble the size of the city-centre multimedia and art museum. Jones also teaches at London Metropolitan University.


Jillian Jones

Studied Leeds Metropolitan University; London Metropolitan University
First practice
John Lyall Architects
First project
Tottenham Hale tube modernisation
Current projects
Stormen concert hall and library, Bodø; refurbishment for University for the Creative Arts, Rochester; new gallery in Sheffield; masterplan and elderly housing scheme in Aarschot, Belgium
Favourite architects
Jane Drew, Chamberlin, Powell & Bon, Eduardo Soutode Moura, Bolles+Wilson
Favourite buildings
Labrouste’s Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève and Siza’s Boa Nova tea house
Why architecture
Despite being told by the careers adviser at school that it was a boys subject, I was interested in the mix between art and science. I had never met an architect before I applied for university and it was clear when I arrived, I knew absolutely nothing about what an architect did. It was a very steep learning curve.
Biggest challenge facing women in architecture
They are the same challenges that face women in most professions and many of them are also shared by men. The lack of work life balance, often caused by low fee levels or the prevalence of macho presentee-ism culture, has an impact on both men and women in the UK. As women often take the role of primary carer, their career is often the one that is seen as being sacrificed. Working in Norway for 5 years, during which time I took maternity leave, I have seen that things can be different. There is an expectation that women and men can take career breaks to have a family and returning to work is made easy by cheap childcare and shorter working days. Though interestingly, most of our client and consultant team were men.
Advice to aspiring female architects
Find a practice where you feel supported and inspired and don’t accept being underestimated or bullied. Don’t sacrifice everything for the architectural cause.

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