Interview with Finnish Architect Anni Laurila

Anni Laurila is a Finnish architect and urban designer that has recently been awarded the title of First Runner-up of the EFCA’s Future Leaders Competition. This Award is given to exceptional young professionals in the engineering consultancy sector every year. Being a young female professional in architecture and design, she conducted two interviews regarding the changing field of architecture, her views on developments towards sustainable urban design as well as the role of Women in the building sector.

The first interview aims to give general insights on her career as an Architect as she discusses what inspires her, presents recent challenges for Women in Architecture and expands on the role of sustainability in her project implementations.

One of the discussion points revolves around the disproportionate disparity between women and men in leading positions and university classrooms of architecture institutions. This part of the interview touches on the Country Situation Reports in the YesWePlan Compendium 4 in 1, which concludes that, though a higher percentage of graduates of architecture are female, leading positions in companies are still largely carried out by men. Anni Laurila introduces similar findings for Finland, expanding this research to other parts of Europe. The same can be said for her critique of the social and cultural responsibilities Women Architects carry, in particular childcaring and household work, which makes it hard for many Women in Architecture to find a sufficient work-life balance. These working conditions are also presented in the YesWePlan! Recommendations for employers and the professional chambers and organisations. These structural inequalities may be reduced through active awareness-raising to the disparity as well as more flexible working conditions for both men and women, which would allow more levelled working environments for all genders.

The second interview focuses on her award-winning Lielahti master plan, which transforms a part of the City of Tampere, Finland, into a more sustainable and liveable city step-by-step until 2040. She presents the project’s goals and its realisation in detail, particularly emphasising the role of sustainability, inclusivity and accessibility of the project. She acknowledges that architecture and design competitions can greatly demonstrate the diversity of the building sector and stresses that more Women should take part in these competitions on a larger basis.

The EFCA Future Leaders Competition is being held in 2023, it is still possible to apply until the end of March. Find out more here.

Access the full interviews through this webpage, links to the interviews themselves can be found below.

Discussions on Gender Equality with Eurocrades and CEPLIS

Free European Union flags image

Eurocrades (Council of European Professional & Managerial Staff) and CEPLIS (European Council of Liberal Professions) co-hosted a panel discussion on March 2nd to evaluate successes in gender equality in the past year and discuss further steps needed. The event was split into two panels by experts in gender equality and the discussions managed to set a focus on reflecting and addressing questions on transition and tangible changes that can be fulfilled.

The two panels consisted of gender equality and social inclusion specialists including Gaetano Stella (CEPLIS), Nayla Glaise (President, Eurocadres), Konstantina Vardaramatou (Secretary General, European Women’s Lobby), Stecy Yghemonos (Executive Director, Eurocarers) Nadia Hadad (European Disability Forum) as well as MEP’s and representatives of the European Economic and Social Committee) demonstrating willingness to understand and lead on creating an inclusive environment that would be looking ahead to the changes needed to bridge the existing gap between the sexes.

Women are under-represented in many professional occupations. They are also underpaid, often passed for promotions and faced with everyday sexism. Architecture and Civil Engineering are both male-dominated fields. While times are slowly changing, some firms have made a deliberate effort to make their offices more representative of society as a whole by promoting gender equality.

Initiatives for change were seen as a result from the YesWePlan! Project, particularly the Best Practice Examples. The project outcomes show that, while some regions have achieved gender equality more than others, there is a lot to be done within the European Union. Examples for these proposed measures can be found in the YesWePlan! Recommendations.

More information on the event can be found on the Eurocrades website.

International Women’s Day

On this year’s International Women’s Day, we would like to present various campaigns and events that discuss gender equality and help recognise the many excellent female professionals in Architecture and Civil Engineering.

Today, look out for the Hashtags #IngéEgalité (for French speakers) and #EqualityinEngineering in order to get involved with a campaign by Syntec-Ingénierie on Twitter and other social media platforms. This French representative federation has over 400 members and guides engineering companies for various issues and business development. Their campaign helps highlight projects, organisations and events that focus on Women in the engineering community.

On 1st March, the European Parliament met in Brussels to discuss how the energy crisis is affecting Women in particular with speeches by exemplary experts and further examine measures in order to combat inequality in this situation particularly. In his introductory speech, Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee Chair Robert Biedroń stressed that measures need to be put in place as the European Union is still 60 years away from gender equality. He called for improvements in abortion and freedom laws that are currently missing in many EU countries as well as further regulations to advance labour protection, the education system and social positions of Women. He expanded these demands to other vulnerable groups that are affected by structural inequalities and closed with an eager will to take action in these areas and therefore protect and enhance Women’s rights in the European Union.

The full transcript of his speech is available here, while the inter-parliamentary meeting can be rewatched under this link.

Spanish Books on Women in Architecture

The YesWePlan! project parnters from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), namely Eva M Álvarez and Carlos J. Gómez, have been working on editing books on women in architecture. The first being a book on Brazilian/Italian-born architect Lina Bo Bardi, who designed and planned many buildings in Brazil and also realised her responsibility as an architect by dedicating a lot of her work to affordable housing. The book carries the title ‘Lina Bo Bardi en Bahia’ and is a collection of pictures and designs by author Carla Zollinger in Spanish.

The second book is a translation of Dolores Hayden’s book ‘The Grand Domestic Revolution– A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities’ into Spanish. Like the English version, the aim is to bring light to extraordinary plans and strategies of women architects and give an overview of their historic impacts.

The UPV partners have been realising many more projects on gender equality in architecture in Spain, more information will be given once the books are available for sale and further information on their upcoming events is released. We recommend to stay updated with the YesWePlan! Twitter Account.

Programme of the Swedish Presidency of the Council

As Sweden has taken on the Presidency of the Council of Europe for the first half of 2023, the Swedish Presidency has now presented their programme for their presidency. Their focus points include measures to strengthen the security of a unified Europe, improve the competitiveness of the Union, continue efforts towards the green transition and maintain democratic values. The Swedish Presidency also expressed its goals in terms of employment and social affairs, as they have set out to combat gender inequality and work towards non-discrimination in the workplace and as a social policy. The Programme demonstrates plans on a Directive on equality bodies, as well as a Directive on binding measures for transparency in salary-settings and proposing an anti-discrimination Directive to the Council. These measures show an active approach in the fight against gender-based discrimination and mark an important step towards achieving gender equality.

Further proving their commitment to this issue, the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union has arranged a conference on Economic perspectives on gender-based violence on 1 and 2 February, where the presenters explored the linkage between men’s violence against women and economic empowerment.

More information on the event as well as Livestreams of the presentations can be found here.

The full Programme of the Swedish Presidency of the Council can be found here.
Find out more information on the Programme here.

New European Bauhaus Prizes 2023

For the third time, the European Commission is organising the New European Bauhaus Prizes. These continuously aim at highlighting spectacular projects as well as innovative concepts that promote aesthetics, sustainability and inclusivity. The NEB Prizes are particularly representative of young architects and women architects, as the projects are evaluated by a professional team of assessors.

The Call for this round of the Bauhaus Prizes have now been opened. Applications are taken from the four different categories:

  • Reconnecting with nature
  • Regaining a sense of belonging
  • Prioritising the places that need it the most
  • Shaping a circular industrial ecosystem and supporting life-cycle thinking

Each of the four categories has separate competitions for different groups of applications:

  • New European Bauhaus Champions: For completed projects
  • New European Bauhaus Rising Stars: For ideas and concepts by young talents under 30
  • New European Bauhaus Education Champions: For projects and initiatives focussed on education and learning

The winners of the categories within their competition each receives EUR 30.000 (or EUR 14.000 for Rising Stars) as well as a communication package from the European.

The submission deadline is on 31 January at 19:00 CET, 2023.

For this year’s round, the West Balkan States may apply with all European Member States.

Visit the prizes platform here.

The European Commission has also called for experts to evaluate the submissions. It is important that the panel of judges and assessors is deeply represented by female architects in order to combat any biases.

Applications can be submitted until December 2022, the European Commission is looking for experts on the categories sustainability, aesthetics and quality of experience as well as inclusiveness. Experts can also apply with a background of education.

For further details for assessors please see the Call for expression of interest for external experts and contract template. You can apply here.

Results of the Femmes Architectes Award in France

On 15 November 2022, the annual award ceremony for the Prix Français des Femmes Architectes (French Award for Women Architects) was held in Paris. This is the tenth edition of said award, and it is still seen as an exemplary measure for honouring women in architecture. It was made to give recognition to female French architects and highlight their contributions to building culture.

YesWePlan! has listed the Femmes Architectes Award as a Best Practice Example, as this prize realises some of the essential recommendations put out with the YesWePlan! 4 in 1 Compendium. It even inspired the launch of the Austrian equivalent, the AnotHER VIEWture Award, which was held in Vienna in October of 2022 for the first time (click here to view our article on the AnotHER VIEWture Award ceremony).

The four categories (prize for young female architect, prize for an original work by a woman architect, overall prize for a woman architect as well as an award for an international female architect) all produce extraordinary winners and give light to their projects.

The winners of the individual categories were chosen by an all-female jury based on different categories. These were discussed and evaluated individually, giving each nomination particular care and attention. One jury member is Catherine Guyot, who is secretary general of the organising chamber ARHVA and president of the jury and played a vital role bringing the award to life and also participated in YesWePlan! as a project partner.

The winners of the Femmes Architectes Award are:

Christine Vega Iclesias as Young Woman Architect of 2022
Julie Degand for her project “Salle polyvalente et culturelle Sodbury” as original work by a woman architect in 2022
Rozana Montiel from Mexico as International Woman Architect of 2022
Chrystelle Avenier as Woman Architect of the Year

For more information, please visit the Femmes Architectes website.

AnotHER VIEWture Award Ceremony

On 20 October 2022, the first ever AnotHER VIEWture Award was held in Vienna in the Academy of Fine Arts. This architectural competition was created by the Austrian Federal Chamber of Engineering Consultants (BKZT) in order to give women in architecture and engineering recognition for their contributions to building culture and help shape the industry towards equality and diversity. As such, the AnotHER VIEWture award is a fresh Best Practice Example for YesWePlan!, being shaped after the listed example of the French Femmes Architectes award by project partner ARHVA.

The evening itself entailed a warm welcome by Daniel Fügenschuh, the president of the BKZT, and Bettina Dreier, who is the chairwoman of the Committee for Women Architects and Chartered Engineering Consultants and played a large role in realising YesWePlan! from the beginning. Monika Vana, Member of the European Parliament and the FEMM committee, was able to participate at the event via video message, where she expressed the importance of highlighting women in STEM professions.

The award ceremony continued by presenting two speakers who held informative and valuable presentations on women in architecture. The first was Barbara Zibell, a Swiss urban planner and expert on gender issues, as she gave an overview on the history of women in architecture and civil engineering, especially concerning architectural awards. The second presentation was held by Anna Resch, sociologist and cooperation partner of the YesWePlan! Project. As part of her Master thesis on “Women Architects and Civil Engineers in Austria – A Qualitative Analysis of Gender-Related Aspects of the Individually Shaped Life and Working Environment of Austrian Women Architects and Engineering Consultants”, she analysed some outputs of YesWePlan! further with a special focus on the Recommendations.

The highlight of the evening was reached as the awards were presented and distributed to the winners of the four categories.

Eva Gyüre, who played a key role in bringing the YesWePlan! project to life, explained the process behind the jury decisions as head of the all-female jury. The certificates were awarded by President of the Committee of Women Architects and Civil Engineering Consultants Katharina Fröch, congratulating each of the winners individually.

The award for (Austrian) Female Architect of the Year was secured by architect Barbara Poberschnigg for her economical use of resources in three different projects, the award was presented by Katharina Bayer.

The second category – Emerging Female Architect of the Year – was won by architect Catharina Maul. The jury chose her for her various designs, that particularly were designed with a sense of social responsibility and maturity despite her young age. Eva Álvarez, cooperation partner of YesWePlan! from Spain, held the laudatory speech for this award.

The last award reserved for Austrian nominees was the Female Engineering Achievement of the Year Award. For this accomplishment, Austrian engineering consultant Carla Lo was chosen with her design of the ‘schwimmende Gärten’. The presenting jury member Margarete Salzer congratulated her for her exemplary work in creating a comfortable and animating space right at the Danube Channel in Vienna.

The fourth and final award for International Female Architect of the Year was open for applications to Architects who are not from or working in Austria. This was awarded to Lithuanian architect Sabina Grincevičiūtė, who impressed the jury with her sustainability focussed projects. The listed examples included a contemporary conversion of a warehouse and a modern restoration of a concrete factory.

For more information on the AnotHER VIEWture award, please visit its website. We encourage you look at the winning designs and click through the shortlisted nominations as well.

Elections 2022 in the Chamber of Architects and Chartered Engineering Consultants in Austria:
A step towards gender equality in professional representation

Though the YesWePlan! Project has now officially come to an end, the many outcomes that resulted from the project are now finding their way into practice by professionals in education, profession and work places. The YWP! Recommendations provides tools and suggestions for changes in the different environments in order to achieve a more inclusive environment for women architects and engineers.

A basic Recommendation for representative organisations is to promote gender equality in leading positions in organisations and to commit to diversity and equity in the decision making. The 2022 elections in the Chambers of Architects and Chartered Engineering Consultants in Austria show some great results as regards this aim:

Cora Stöger;
(c) Phillip Resch

The election of the regional Chamber of Architect and Chartered Engineering Consultants of Upper Austria and Salzburg brought about its first female Chamber President, Chartered Engineering Consultant Cora Stöger. As the Professional Section of Architects is vice-chaired by Architect Susanne Seyfert, this means that the Presidium is composed of two female and four male professionals.

For the Section of Architects in the regional Chamber of Architects and Chartered Engineering Consultants of Tyrol and Vorarlberg the elections also led to very remarkable results: The Section of Architect is chaired and vice-chaired by women Architects, Architect Carmen Schrötter-Lenzi and Architect Veronika König. Additionally, the Section of Chartered Engineering Consultants is vice-chaired by Chartered Engineering Consultant Regina Mayer, which means that the composition of the Presidium is fully gender equal with 50% women.

left to right: König, Schrötter-Lenzi, Gasser, Vogl-Fernheim, Kofler, Mayer; (c) Steinlechner

In the regional Chamber of Architects and Chartered Engineering Consultants of Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland both Professional Sections are now chaired by women, Architect Evelyn Rudnicki and Chartered Engineering Consultant Michaela Ragossnig-Angst. This means that also here two of six members of the Presidium are female.

The regional Chamber of Architects and Chartered Engineering Consultants of Carinthia and Styria confirmed Architect Barbara Frediani-Gasser in her role as Vice President, while the rest of the Presidium is male.

The Committee of women Architects and Chartered Engineering Consultants that has initiated and conducted the “YesWePlan!” Erasmus+ Project is happy about this important sign towards gender equality in professional representation. “Regarding the fact, that the share of women in architecture and in the engineering professions overall is still very low, this is a great result and a very good initial position for finally changing structural discrimination problems within the professional bodies. It also  gives motivation and impetus to our work in the Committee”, confirms Chairwoman Architect Bettina Dreier.


Award Ceremony on 20 October 2022, Akademie der Bildenden Künste /Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna

Save the date for a special event:

AnotHERVIEWture is the new annual award in Austria for excellence in female civil engineering and architecture that is going to introduce women and their work to you and a broader public in order to raise awareness of the female contribution in the building industry and to highlight role models in order to transform this field of profession towards equality and diversity.

Prizes are awarded in four categories, including the prize for “International Female Architect of the Year”, and the decision is taken by an international jury of female Architects and Engineers.

On 20 October 2022, the first Award Ceremony is going to take place in Vienna at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste / Academy of Fine Arts.

At the occasion, Anna Resch, sociologist and cooperation partner of the YesWePlan! Project will present the results of her Master thesis on “Women Architects and Civil Engineers in Austria – A Qualitative Analysis of Gender-Related Aspects of the Individually Shaped Life and Working Environment of Austrian Women Architects and Engineering Consultants” which is written as a secondary analysis of the Erasmus+ project “Yes, we plan!”. Qualitative guided interviews will be used to investigate the question of how the individual working and living environment of female architects/civil engineers in Austria is structured. The focus is on the individual experiences of the participants and an interdisciplinary consideration from a sociological perspective, in order to be able to derive from a visualisation of the interrelationships which measures need to be taken specifically in Austria in order to be able to optimise the professional fields for women.