Female Architects bag National accolades – beating their male counterparts

Recently, at the Corobrick – SAIA Awards of Excellence, four women were honoured for their work in the male dominated field of architecture. This great stride for female architects was sealed when three of eight projects nominated for the Award of Excellence- the institute’s highest honour – won. The winning projects were completed by teams that were lead by a female architect or a female owned firm.

Nina Saunders, former vice-president of the SAIA explained that since its introduction in 1990, The Corobrik – SAIA Awards of Excellence recognise only, “exceptional contributions to the field of architecture.”

“Less than 20% of SAIA members are currently women. However, almost 28% of member have earned the title of Professional Architect, the highest level of membership, and we are seeing an encouraging trend emerging of 40% women in the Architect in Training category,” Saunders added

The four award winning architects are Anne Graupner, principal at 26’10 south Architects in Johannesburg; Michelle Sandilands, principal of MSa Michelle Sandilands Architects in Cape Town, Charlotte Chamberlain and Nocila Irving who are partners at the CCNIA practice, also situated in Cape Town.

About the winners

Anne Graupner, lead architect and co-founder of 26’10 south Architects, won the Corobrik – SAIA Award for Merit for work done in a studio home in Brixton, Johannesburg. The mother of two young children works as a fulltime professional architect and urban designer. Graupner, who graduated cum laude from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, lectures and she has designed exhibitions locally and abroad. She is also the co-author of the book ‘Contemporary South African Architecture in a Landscape of Transition.’

The Phase 2 of UNISA building at the Cape Flats won Michelle Sandilands and MSa Michelle Sandilands Architects their award. The years of experience she gained for designing a number of Cape Town’s foremost commercial, corporate and public buildings lead, her to start her own practice. She and her team have since won many national and regional awards for their tireless efforts and commitment to the trade.

Both graduates of UCT, Charlotte Chamberlain and Nicola Irving received the Award of Excellence for a pre-school and art building they designed for the Springfield Convent School in the Cape Southern suburbs. They each gained experience working in Europe, after which they returned back to South Africa, where they first joined forces while working for Louis Karol Architects. After parting ways with that firm, these two embarked on a joint venture to build a practice that worked towards creating a better life for the greater community.

Saunders concluded that, “This is a notable achievement in a field where women have only recently come to the fore.”


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