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New initiative shines spotlight on women and architecture in New Zealand

New initiative shines spotlight on women and architecture in New Zealand

To celebrate the centenary of New Zealand’s suffrage in June 1993 an exhibition titled  Constructive Agenda – 60 Years of Women in Architecture in New Zealand sparked widespread interest in Kiwi women working in architecture. Taking place in Auckland and Wellington, the exhibition included female students and graduates of architecture, along with practicing and retired women architects. But what’s happened to women in architecture since then? When you consider close to half of all all new architecture students are  women and yet only 10 percent get registered after graduating, it does pose an interesting question.

In a bid to answer this question and once again open up the dialogue, a website will be launched on September 26 to coincide with the opening of Auckland Architecture Week

Called Architecture + Women (A+W), the project is the initiative of registered architects Megan Rule and Lynda Simmons, architect graduate Julie Wilson and Auckland University School of Architecture and Planning professor Sarah Treadwell. 

The purpose of the website is to provide a current database and network of women in architecture associated with New Zealand across all categories, including professional, student, academic, retired and those on the periphery. Individuals and Practices will be able to upload their details to build the growing database. This will lead to an exhibition of women in architecture planned for 2013, to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the original exhibition, and the 120-year anniversary of the Suffrage Movement. 

“We decided to use the 20 year anniversary of the exhibition as an opportunity to research where women have gone and are going within architecture,” said co-founder Wilson. 

Wilson is quick to point out the site is “not a blog for winging”, acting instead as a “voice” for women that provides the opportunity to network. It will also be an important resource of information, research and talent. 

We want to attract the large number of women who either have worked in, on the periphery of, or associated with, the field of architecture.  

So far the initiative has garnered strong support from the NZIA and Auckland University. Research by Auckland University School of Architecture Professor Errol Haarhoff, which will be available on the new website, has indicated the relationship of women and architecture has changed throughout the decades, but not necessarily for the better. Adding to Haarhoff’s findings, A+W  is currently undertaking further research through Auckland University.   

You can catch a glimpse of the A+W website ahead of launch here. 

First year female students from Unitec School of Architecture. PHOTOGRAPHY: Ainsley O'Connell.