"Architecture is a way of thinking and not a job", said the great architect Le Corbusier. This is absolutely true, so much so that now like never before an education in architecture represents an added value, versatile and transversal, able to inspire with an overview of many sectors, from communications to outdoor living, not focused exclusively on operational and design phases. Within this fruitful blend of knowledge it is interesting to explore the contribution of women architects, which is also expressed in an approach and in a sensitivity that are neither better nor worse but certainly different from those of men. The number of women architects is increasing all over the world (in Italy they account for 42% of the total), making "the woman question" in architecture an interesting topic to be studied in all its many nuances.
That's why of the many architects in the Corradi staff we decided to have a chat with Giulia Sacchetta, architect in Corradi's Marketing & Communications area.
Women architects: virtuous examples in the outdoor living sector
The archistar Odile Decq, famous for having designed museums, convention centres, banks and restaurants, a few years ago in an interview with the newspaper Corriere della Sera said: "When I told my father I wanted to study architecture he invited a friend, an architect (male), to dinner, who told me: ‘A woman architect? Good idea. You could be good at designing kitchens, because women are more practical’”.
Women architects are increasing all over the world, but disparities still remain with men in terms of respect, earnings and career opportunities. Is it a real problem?
For sure inequality is a problem today - not only in Italy - and it concerns all sectors, therefore also architecture. It's no coincidence that on 25 May Odile Decq organised a flash mob on gender equality at the Biennale Architettura along with two other great women of architecture, Martha Thorne, director of the Pritzker Prize, and Farshid Moussavi, British architect of Iranian origin.
However, there are good examples of women who have managed to create their own brands based on their reputation: Paola Navona, Paola Lenti and Patricia Urquiola, for example, are three very important figures and trendsetters in the world of outdoor architecture and design, as confirmed at the last Milan Fuorisalone.
The great architect Zaha Hadid was asked why her projects always used sinuous and unexpected lines, and she answered: "Simply because life is not a grid. Take a natural landscape, there is nothing regular or flat about it, but everyone finds these places to be very pleasant and relaxing. I think we should try to achieve this with architecture, in our cities. There are already more than enough horrible, low-cost buildings".
Is being a woman in architecture an added value in terms of creativity and vision?
Being a woman offers a different point of view, especially with regard to a rational approach and the ability to make spaces usable. However, I agree with Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, curators of the 16th edition of the Biennale Architettura: "Imagination is not a question of gender! It's important for women's voices to be heard in every area. The sensitivity of each of us must be heard. It doesn't matter if the person speaking is a man or a woman: we must listen to what people have to say".
Feminine and masculine sensitivities are complementary, so even the different visions of men and women architects are needed to understand reality in its entirety.
This year the Biennale Architettura is all female, with the curators Farrell and McNamara who have chosen Freespace as their theme. What should we expect from this edition?
I haven't had a chance to visit the exhibition yet, but what emerges from the manifesto of the two curators is the idea of architecture as free space, which I agree with wholeheartedly. "Free" is the word that recurs most frequently, underlining how Freespace is a democratic space that must be understood and rendered free for use.
What is the role and contribution that architecture can and must offer to society today, as hyperconnected and technological as it is?
Speaking of Freespace, I am convinced that the role and the duty of architecture in today's society is to be usable, democratic and human, which means suitable for all, designed for all and, therefore, open.
From your point of view, what is the state of architecture's health in Italy and Europe, the continent that was recognised even at the recent Biennale Architettura Golden Lion awards ceremony?
I must say that European architecture continues to enjoy great prestige at an international level: we have many outstanding examples, and I was particularly pleased to see Eduardo Souto de Moura honoured in Venice, a Portuguese architect whom I really love, winner of the Pritzker Prize and Piranesi Prix de Rome 2017 for lifetime achievement.
The Golden Lion awarded to Kenneth Frampton was also an important recognition, because it celebrates European architecture, its history and its culture, testifying to how it remains a current source of inspiration for all us architects.
In today's world of design outdoor living is no longer considered a detail, an afterthought of the project, but rather participates fully in the creation of a living space through a fruitful dialogue between indoors and outdoors. How does Corradi work with architecture firms and, from your point of view as an architect, why is Corradi the ideal partner for a designer in this sector?
In recent years outdoor living has garnered great interest and numerous architectural studies, as people are finally realising that outer spaces need to be assessed, designed and attended to in every detail, because it is for all intents and purposes an environment of value and well-being. Consequently Corradi is engaged in a continuous dialogue with architects, with whom we share the same language: the language of design. We work alongside architects to create and develop solutions that are not simply an object, but an integral part of a project. This is one of the reasons why I am an architect "on loan" to the communications department, because it is important that also the Marketing & Communications office is focused on enhancing this distinctive trait of Corradi, in addition to the architectural aspects of spaces: all information and quality that must be conveyed in the most effective communication style.
In fact, I'm not the only architect at Corradi. It's a role that is part of our staff, especially in the area dedicated to special projects, where designers and architects work together with the objective of creating custom solutions.
Name three women architects who you admire and who inspire you in your work.
Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA, a Japanese studio that has always blended architecture and nature in its designs, an important approach that we share here at Corradi. Fuensanta Nieto of the Spanish studio Nieto Sobejano, highly appreciated for her minimalist and powerful style, and finally Frida Escobedo, a young Mexican designer and architect famous for urban and residential architecture, who also followed the Serpentine Pavilion for the 2018 installation in the centre of Hyde Park in London.
Those who design beautiful spaces, environments to be lived in, cannot do so without architecture. Indeed, as Zaha Hadid said, "Architecture is really about well-being. I think that people want to feel good in a space.... On the one hand it's about shelter, but it's also about pleasure".
You can't argue with that.