Women in Architecture

Although the architecture and construction industries are typically male dominated, women contribute significantly to our built environment with many female designers and architects are making waves in the industry in NZ and abroad.

We thought we'd celebrate women in architecture and have a chat with some kiwi women designing homes for the Rangitahi peninsula in Raglan. We wanted to know if they face any challenges as women in an industry, with only 1% of women in senior roles, and where women represent only 27% of registered architects in NZ. We have asked if they feel opportunities are available for women in the industry, and of course — what inspires and motivates these talented wahine to design beautiful homes! We are inspired by their strong, feminine design aesthetics and can't wait to see their designs come to life on the Peninsula.

Design by Francesca Peacocke, Rua Studios

Francesca Peacocke of 'Rua Studios' completed her Bachelor of Architecture in Auckland in 2015. She has recently gone out on her own after gaining valuable experience working for a number of different people. Firstly Veryan Faye, a high-end kitchen designer based in Auckland, Francesca then headed over to Santa Cruz, California to work for Architect Mark Primack and more recently Envision Architecture locally in Te Uku. Now with a steady flow of work coming in through her contacts in Raglan, she has found the space and confidence to start her own business 'Rua Studios', where she is inspired daily to design homes that reflect the natural surroundings.

Do you think the same opportunities exist for women as they do for men in the industry? Why?

I think many opportunities do exist for women, however, Architecture is undeniably a life time of learning and there is so much to know and think about to be able to develop in the profession- constantly... I think the main point is that by the time you finish school, travel and gather 5 years experience in the industry, at this point you are only really beginning to find your feet, you might be ready to start your own small business or move up in an Architects firm that you’re working at, but at this point many woman want to have kids. Of course men help too but it’s the woman who have to stay home initially. This isn’t a negative thing but it has huge effect on pursuing a ‘career’ if you do value having a family.

What are you inspired by when designing homes or structures?

Firstly the contour of the land, the surrounding vegetation and views and of course the relation to the sun. How to acknowledge the surroundings but at the same time creatively find a way to place a simple structure there without disturbing the natural beauty of the land, colours, contours and feeling.

"I think woman have a beautiful connection with the ‘home’ and thus an advantage of knowing how we live in a space giving the ability to more deeply understand how they interact" as said by Le Corbusier in 'A house is a machine for living in'.

I feel that the process of designing a home for someone is a hugely emotional and thought provoking process for people. As a woman I think I enjoy more the developing relationship between designer and client to build a design that we are both equally pleased with where I can have creative freedom and they can satisfy their needs and feel at ease.

Are there any successful female architects or designers the you look up to or seek inspiration from in NZ or abroad?

Lance and Nicola Herbst of Herbst Architects.

To get in touch with Francesca contact her via email francesca@ruastudios.co.nz

Design by Georgia Peacocke, Edwards White Architecture

Georgia Peacocke is an Architectural graduate at Edwards White Architects in Hamilton. She is very excited to be designing a home on the Peninsula for herself and family. Georgia completed her Bachelor of Architecture with Masters in Wellington in recent years and will become a registered architect in the future. We are excited to see Georgias' strong, simple, feminine design aesthetic on the Peninsula. Georgia has found her entrance to the Architecture industry full of opportunity and we can see a bright future ahead for her.

"While some may say that women in the industry can be undervalued or overlooked, I personally believe there is great opportunity in the industry for women and we are starting to see this with more of a feminine approach to design. I don’t see challenges, rather potential. I appreciate a different perspective on architecture and while there is less of us, perhaps it only takes a few to create the impact needed." says Georgia.

Do you think the same opportunities exist for women as they do for men in the industry? Why?

This might differ throughout the industry for many women in the field of architecture. Opportunity exists for those who seek it however the industry does continue to be dominated by male architects. My belief is that we will begin to see changes of opportunity as the percentage of female architecture graduates is steadily increasing, and firms become to understand the potential of balance within their operations.

What are you inspired by when designing homes or structures?

I am inspired by simple, which believe it or not is the hardest to detail! Also, the way a building is built into it's surrounding landscape and the appreciation for this element within a concept.

What kind of homes are you working on for the peninsula? Can you tell us a bit about these?

I am working on my own build. Very exciting. My sisters and I set out to build a small 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home that remains informal and ‘bach-like’. With the coastal setting it seeks to use natural materials and colour palate, reflective of the surrounding environment. Being my first project from start to finish it has been such an awesome learning experience, and have definitely been taking advantage of my awesome colleagues for advice along the way.

Are there any successful female architects or designers the you look up to or seek inspiration from in NZ or abroad?

Oh so many! In New Zealand Bureaux is my ultimate architectural crush, founded by two female registered architects Jessica Walker and Maggie Carroll they have the most beautiful eye for design. In Australia so so many incredible, Mel bright from studio bright, Kerstin Thompson of Kerstin Thompson Architects, Rachel Nolan of Kennedy Nolan, and the list goes on! I aspire to be like all of these incredible architects who are pushing the boundaries and paving the way for females in the industry.

Follow Georgia and the Edwards White team via @edwardswhitearchitects on instagram or head to their website edwardswhite.co.nz

Design by Alice Gironella, Rubix Architecture

Alice Gironella of Rubix Architecture is a locally based architectural designer who has designed more than a handful of designs for the peninsula that will be built in the coming years. Alice has had experience working for a couple of Hamilton Architecture firms, but has started her own business in recent years, and has been kept busy with projects across the north island. Alice's design approach has a strong focus on environmentally friendly materials and creating interior features that are distinct and bespoke with natural timbers. As well as a strong architectural form, her designs work with the contour of the land to soften their visual impact.

"To manage or to own your own design practice takes years of everyday commitment, anyone who sacrifices that amount of time and effort will find the way to the top no matter the gender." says Alice.

Do you think the same opportunities exist for women as they do for men in the industry?

Yes! Architecture is now utilising technology, art, expression, compassionate consideration, imagination along with engineering and understanding government laws and guidelines. As long as these concepts are understood and a person is passionate about the end result they are trying to achieve, the opportunities and success will come up over time. No matter what your goals are, consistency is how you get there.

What are you inspired by when designing homes or structures?

Every home is different! I suppose a collaboration of things really. Client’s personalities and ideas, the surrounding environment, both physical and overall “vibes” of the area, sometimes even the challenges that exist before the design even starts can inspire me to think outside the box a bit, so to speak!

What kind of homes are you working on for the peninsula?

We have some amazing modern homes on the go at the moment with clients that are motivated and environmentally aware. It makes it enjoyable to work with modern products and healthy materials, creating spaces customised to individual comforts and luxuries.Follow Alice and see more of her work via Instagram @rubix_architecture or her website rubixarchitecture.com

Click here to see all current sections for sale on Rangitahi and start designing your dream home.

The Rangitahi Project

It’s your story now