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vPPR trio named Emerging Woman Architect of the Year 2015

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The co-founders of blossoming London-based practice vPPR have picked up the 2015 Emerging Woman Architect of the Year Award

The jury described Tatiana von Preussen, Catherine Pease and Jessica Reynolds as ‘fresh, collaborative, professional and very together’. 

The trio, who founded London-based vPPR in 2009, saw off strong competition. including Stitch founder Sally Lewis and DRDH’s Jillian Jones to win the award which recognises those who excel in design and thought-leadership and who have ‘a bright future ahead’.

Women in Architecture (WIA) judge John McAslan said: ‘[All three] showed they are very conscious of not just creating great design but also a sustainable business’.

While, fellow judge Land Securities’ Colette O’Shea added: ‘They have clearly thought about their design approach, their business, and how to move their business forward. They will be great role models for other women in the profession.’   

They will be great role models

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.

In 2014, the practice was shortlisted for RIBA London’s Emerging Architect of the Year Award, while its 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.

vPPR also saw off award finalists Purcell’s Laura Highton, Katy Marks of Citizens Design Bureau, Marta Pelegrin of Spanish studio Mediomundo Arquitectos, Croydon Council’s Chloe Phelps and Betsy Williamson, co-founder of Toronto-based Williamson Chong.

The awards ceremony to celebrate the ROCA-sponsored AJ Women in Architecture campaign, which is now in its fourth year, also included keynote speeches from RIBA Gold Medal winner Sheila O’Donnell and Phyllis Lambert.

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 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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