On 12th December 2019 Tom Cubitt wrote:

‘Breaking Ground – Architecture by Women’ at the Barbican

On Tuesday, Naomi and I attended ‘Breaking Ground – Architecture by Women’ at the Barbican as part of the Architecture on Stage lecture series. The talk was led by Jane Hall of Assemble, who has recently published a book also titled Breaking Ground – Architecture by Women. The book compiles over 200 buildings designed by women over the past century and this formed the start of the talk.

Jane presented several architects from the book, including Margaret Staal-Kropholler, Flora Steiger-Crawford and Beverly Loraine Greene. She described the typical representation of women in architecture as being associated with white, male Modernists. She also discussed the problem of authorship in the profession and how often only the founding partners of a firm are considered worthy of recognition, leaving many senior architects without credit.

Alisha Fisher then spoke about Black Females in Architecture – a peer-driven membership network which organises talks and workshops in London to promote diversity in architecture and to explore themes brought up by its members. Alisha discussed the problem of how very few BAME graduate architects complete their Part 3.

Zoë Berman of Studio Berman spoke about Part W, the women’s campaign group which she founded. Part W has crowd-sourced an all-female alternative to the RIBA’s Royal Gold Medal list, due to there being only one female winner of the award (Zaha Hadid) in 171 years. The organisation pushes for gender equality across the built environment.

The talk concluded with a conversation between the panel and audience and reflected the need for interdisciplinary change – a powerful end to a thought-provoking evening.