Is this a job for a lady?

Is this a job for a lady?

Exhibited at Loop – a celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day

The recognition of 100 significant female architects.
How many [female] architects can you name?

E-1027 is a modernist house that sits on the edge of the sea in Roquebrune Cap-Martin, France; completed in 1929, up until recently its design was attributed to Jean Badovici, a contemporary and friend of Le Corbusier. In actual fact the house was predominantly the work of Eileen Gray, his partner at the time. Gray was generally more renown for her furniture design, less known for her contribution to architecture. This is not an isolated incident – female architects often struggle for recognition and commissions within the industry.

Architecture as a profession has been around for centuries however women have only been allowed to practice architecture for less than a century. Following the passing of the 1919 Sex Discrimination Act women were first allowed to become architects. Prior to that women had found it necessary to practice in secret, as was the case with Elizabeth Wilbraham (1632-1705) who may have designed many notable buildings in the seventeenth century but without the records to establish proper attribution for her designs, her name lies in obscurity. Even the Bauhaus design school which was reputed for it’s forward thinking and embracing of modern ideas still would not admit women into it’s architecture school when opened in 1927. The school had defined roles for the “beautiful sex” most female students restricted to the textile crafts, few permitted into sculpture or other areas deemed for the “stronger sex”.

Women are now able to make a name for themselves in architecture these days, and the recognition of their contribution increasing with high profile names such as Zaha Hadid and Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA. However inequalities do exist in the architectural profession today, and it is still regarded as a male dominated profession, with very few women reaching high managerial roles, the glass ceiling within the profession is still a serious concern. Studies have shown the number of women that stay in architecture are relatively low. Women make up 38% of the architectural student population however only 13% of the practicing profession. The long hours and family commitments, and general pressures of a “macho” industry are considered to be reasons for the lack of progression of women architects. This work acknowledges the numerous women and their contribution to the built environment, not satisfied in just taking up the traditional crafts.

03-beach classic

fife ceilidh (again)

Another one that could be pulled from the vaults, although it is actually new annual installment – as we are just back from our third charity ceilidh that our friend Lynn’s parents organise. The attendees take it pretty seriously so we usually stand our like the antipodean interlopers that we are but we seem to be getting better year by year and it is a properly fun event.

After torrential rain last year the weather was absolutely stunning this weekend so we fitted in a visit to the beach, a quick glance at all the fabulous models & boards from the V&A Dundee competition shortlist (Lynn’s partner Craig and my offices’ are in rival bids – Steven Holl & Snohetta respectively) before winding our way through the East Neuk of Fife for some fish and chips in Anstruther.


It has been a bit of a posting desert round here for the last couple months, mainly due to work commitments and sheer laziness, but in recent times more to do with our new project.

We have bought a flat in the centre of Glasgow, but require quite a bit of work to get it up to scratch! – You can follow all the (mis)adventure on our flickr – I think it will be more up to date for the foreseeable future.

We are also back to Aus in April – drop me a line if you fancy catching up.

doors open day

Mum and Dad had a suitably impressive introduction to Glasgow with Doors Open Day being held just after they arrived. We arranged a leisurely wander into town popping into series of ever more impressive historic buildings and churches culminating in the absolutely phenomenal City Chambers. If find it difficult to believe that hadn’t discovered this totally over the top edifice  before – especially as we work just around the corner. It is full of stone and marble lining and the grand ballroom has the dimensions of an aircraft hanger with vast murals and gilt everywhere. It is a truly impressive building and gives an insight into the astounding wealth that Glasgow once possessed.

biting critique of zaha's gleegie shed

quite an entertaining rant…

“In this case, the baroquely difficult solution to the five-second long design process is a perfect example of the dead end; of the arbitrariness and bankruptcy of cultural architecture, a seductive design moment, achingly contingent (should that squiggle be 500mm to the left or not?) followed by an interminable slog of realisation, keeping everybody busy. The fact that the buildings that occupied the site previously were sheds of about the same size, albeit of a less wow-factor shape is hilarious, making this an exercise in architectural futility.”

oswald goes to the borders

Storage Sheds made from upturned boats.
Storage Sheds made from upturned boats on Holy Island.

Our first test of Oswald’s camping abilities was successful if a little disorganized. Taking off after work on a Friday without proper preparation was our first mistake, as was not practicing our packing – we spent a large proportion of the weekend rifling through the cupboards for the thing we needed for that particular Oswald transformation.

We were headed to the Borders region in Scotland’s south east. We had never been past Edinburgh before, except taking in the fantastic coastal views from the (about to be nationalised) East Coast Mainline but had heard some great recommendations for the region.

On the Friday night we made it as far as St Abbs, descending into the misty harbour to wild camp after a late dinner at the pub in Coldringham at the top of the cliffs that line this coast. As it is a diving centre there were even free showers – a deluxe setup for wild capervan camping.

Come Saturday morning with an early start to clear camp the mist was still thick as we picked out way along the coast through little harbour towns. We made it to the border at Berwick on Tweed for breakfast. Having already skipped through the coastal areas of the Borders we decided to push down into England to Holy Island.

Reachable by a causeway only at low tide the mist was still thick as we ventured across creating a spooky impression with water lapping at each side of the road and the occasional sand dune looming out of the fog. By the time we had wandered about the island, with its intriguing ‘boat’ houses and visited the amazingly situated Lindesfarne Castle (renovated by Lutyens into a beautiful summerhouse) the fog had finally lifted revealing the beauty of the island.

After a farm shop lunch and a little cruise along the Northumberland coast we made a quick dash to the incredible Cragside House (to make the most out of our newly purchased National Trust membership). Although we arrived too late to get into the house itself the grounds were impressive enough!

On the Sunday we pottered back into the Borders this time through the inland route passing through picturesque towns such as Coldstream, Kelso and Melrose. A quick stop in the sprawling Galshiels to check out the quirky (listed) modernist football stadium, before a long lunch and exploration of the delightful Peebles rounded off our trip.

new lanark

The Clyde at New Lanark

We finally made  a quick day trip to the world heritage site New Lanark last month. Nestled on a bend of the River Clyde it is an impressive former mill complex that was socially progressive for its time, including child care and adult education classes. It now represents an interesting case study for urban development in a natural setting.

We avoided the interpretive elements that fill some of the existing buildings (what is the internet for after all) to instead focus on the beautiful walk to the Falls of Clyde (above), via nesting peregrines.

new lanark

john lautner


The latest exhibition at the Lighthouse is a fantastic extensive look at the cinematic LA modernist John Lautner. An extensive exhibition over two levels it consists of utalitarian working drawings roughly taped (and protected under perspex) a series of large scale models and slow motion archi-porn by Scotland’s own Murray Grigor.

This is very much an exhibition for architects, rather the general public, and while that may run contra to the aim of the Lighthouse it results in a much stronger outcome. The drawings were the highlight for me – their rough directness, simplicity and total lack of finess telling the story of the houses far better than the scrubbed and polished versions that are usually published in exhibition settings.

The models were far clumsier overscaled and under detailed they lacked the richness of the drawings and the slow video panning around each dwelling that was projected onto the walls.
The plasticity, connection to landscape demonstrated by the architecture on display is totally alien to the Scottish condition, it provided a refreshing change from the prevalent theme of drawing parallels that many exhibitions use as a thematic starting point.

a solution to the housing crisis?

LEGO villa - cellular screenChhay and Claire helped me put the finishing touches on GHA’s entrant into the Scottish Design Award’s uber high profile lego competition. Raising money for the National Autism Society our entry had the distinction of being the only one to (intactly) follw the brief and apparently we scooped the most votes on the nominations night.

Voting is continuing right up unitl the awards presentation however – so cast your votes here!

As far as real entries went GHA made it onto the shortlist for the two categories we entred – small projects for Venice and Practice of the Year.
LEGO villa - view from ocean