Thanks to the Italcementi Group, International Women’s Day just became that much more special. This year the group found a unique way to celebrate the holiday by instituting the very first competition its arcVision—Women in Architecture prize, an award that valorizes the increasingly important role women have and continue to play in architecture.
The jury selected 19 finalists from 15 different countries including but not limited to Egypt, Switzerland, Singapore, Italy, and Thailand. The architects were judged according to their creative approach in designing an unconventional structure as well as their ability to design a building that responds to the context of its site.
The prize was bestowed to Brazilian architect Carla Juaçaba at a press conference at the group’s i.lab Research Center (designed by Richard Meier) in Bergamo on March 7th, and was publicly announced the following day for International Women’s Day.
Juaçaba, who collaborated with artist Bia Lassi, won for her design of the Pavilion Humanidade 2012 project developed specifically for the United Nations’ conference on sustainable development, Rio +20. The architect innovatively designed a translucent waterfront scaffold building made entirely of previously-used, recyclable materials. The temporary structure was used to house private spaces as well as the two-week private exhibition on sustainability.
By designing a structure that is exposed to all weather conditions Juaçaba designed a pavillion that was seamlessly integrated into it’s natural surroundings. The architect, who says her design was inspired by the work of Paulo Mendes, explained “sustainability and geography are closely related in architecture. It might make sense to build on Africa or in some places in Brazil using clay, or to create green roofs in Buenos Aires, but not in this specific site in the fortress of Copacabana. It’s as if every specific geographical point has to find it’s own equilibrium.”
Juaçaba further commented on winning the award by saying, “I think it is really special to have thought of a Prize only for women. I was never “invited” to all the work I’ve done so far. I have always had to struggle to prove that I was capable. I’m not saying this just because I am a woman, but I think that for us it is a little more complicated. So it is really great to have such a prize to highlight this effort, because all work requires hard work. I am really very excited.”
Additionally, honorable mentions were awarded to three other female architects: Izaskun Chinchilla from Spain, Anupama Kundoo from India, and Siiri Valner from Estonia.
This year marks the establishment of a new tradition: from this year forward the Italcementi Group aims to continue recognizing the accomplishments of female architects all over the world through the arcVision Prize.