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Emerging Woman Architect of the Year shortlist: vPPR Architects

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vPPR founders Tatiana von Preussen, Catherine Pease and Jessica Reynolds have been shortlisted for the 2015 Emerging Woman Architect of the Year Award

Tatiana von Preussen, Catherine Pease and Jessica Reynolds founded vPPR Architects in 2009. Boasting a 100 per cent success rate with planning applications, vPPR has become expert at dealing with tricky and constrained sites, both in London and further afield. It has been a busy year for the practice, with 2014 seeing it design a temporary pavilion made of foam for 100% Design, and a window display for Aquascutum as part of the RIBA Regent Street Windows Project, as well as being shortlisted for RIBA London’s Emerging Architect of the Year Award. vPPR’s first completed new-build project, two homes built on a triangular site surrounded by 23 party walls, won an RIBA Award. The scheme, Ott’s Yard, went on to be shortlisted for the 2014 Stephen Lawrence Prize.

Q&A

vPPR

Studied Cambridge University (all), Columbia University (TvP), Princeton (JR), AA (CP)
First practice
James Corner Field Operations (TvP), SOM (CP), Front (JR)
First project
High Line (TvP), Mumbai Airport (CP), MahaNakahonTower (JR)
Current projects
Mixed-use warehouse development on Redchurch Street, London; four new-build houses in Switzerland; a café and hotel in Qingdao, China; dance school for Rubicon Dance in Cardiff
Favourite architects
James Stirling, Valerio Olgiati and Lina Bo Bardi
Favourite building
Leicester Engineering Building
Why architecture
Architecture is quite unique in being both highly creative as well as deeply political and very permanent. The ability to make a real and lasting change to people’s everyday lives is an incredible challenge and very satisfying when this is successfully achieved. The creation of beautiful communal spaces both in and around buildings, which are fully active and enjoyed by all, is a primary goal for us in any project, public or private.
Biggest challenge facing women in architecture
Architects are not paid enough for part-time work to produce sufficient income or to afford childcare. The profession woefully undervalues itself and this affects women particularly because it is hard for practices to afford a good standard of maternity pay. Education is also too long meaning that professional exams coincide with a time of life when many women are starting families. Education could be more efficiently streamlined so that it is possible to qualify much earlier.
Advice to aspiring female architects
Be passionate and prepared to persevere. Find a mentor. If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to ask.

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