Women in Architecture
Dear FuturArc Readers,
Much has been said of the challenges that women face in the workplace, how a female point of view is often lacking in the boardroom. But how are these manifested in the field of design? In the realm of sustainability, in particular, is there a woman’s perspective at the drawing board?
In this issue, we talked to 10 women in architecture, urbanism and landscape design, from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, Taiwan to Singapore. What they share confirmed some of the issues reported elsewhere. Women deal with the proverbial glass ceiling; they struggle with clashing career and family demands. There can be biases in the office, on project sites and in client meetings. Some counter, however, that this is often tempered by social class: if a woman comes to the world of design from a background of wealth or privilege, the discrimination she encounters can be assuaged, but it does not go away entirely.
The vantage point that a woman brings to sustainability is harder to pin down: a female worldview is not apparent, they say, in deciding which strategies or technologies are adopted, or how a building looks. But it can alter how things are done: who is invited to the table, and which problems are prioritised. Yasmeen Lari, the pioneering architect from Pakistan (page 24), summed it up best: “sustainability can’t just be about materials; it has to be about social and ecological justice.”
It is fitting then that this issue is led by women: Zalina, Bhawna, Heather, and Ann are all long-time contributors, and Carissa was the magazine’s content editor. Candice is the heart of the enterprise, shaping the vision for the magazine and the FuturArc brand at large. I have known Candice the longest. She is passionate and proficient at what she does; over the years, her voice, on the subject of sustainability, has grown confident and commanding.
It is with pride therefore that I hand over the mantle of FuturArc Editor-in-Chief to her. This will be my last issue with the magazine.
I decided some months ago that it was time to move on. The post-COVID world beckons with new questions and urgencies that I must heed. And although I will admit that the decision to step away from FuturArc—a vehicle I have cherished and nurtured over 13 years—felt unsettling at first, the open road in front of me now feels compelling.
Before I go, I must thank all who have supported FuturArc, the magazine, its competitions and many events. I am grateful to anyone who openly expressed interest, offered feedback, purchased a subscription or an ad. Everything that we set out to do since 2008, when we rebranded FuturArc as the voice of Green architecture in Asia, has been possible because you propped us up. If there’s one thing I take with me from my encounters with you, it is that there is a voice in everyone you meet. It just needs a little time and encouragement to flourish.
Dr Nirmal Kishnan