Director, Archi Cape Town, South Africa
By 2011, I was a Studio Senior in a relatively large architectural design practice. I was doing work that added value to people lives. I could see the difference my job made to others. I made an impact to the world around me even if it was small. I made the choice to walk away from a comfortable salary for the comfort of owning my own time and knowing that careers don’t flourish when you are chained to the demands of a job. I didn’t want a job anymore, I wanted a career. My goalposts had changed. And so, a new cycle of order came. The energy that kept me pursuing the ambitions of daily life was now invested in me. I didn’t have to validate my ideas to any corporate. The only voice I needed to please was my own.
2020, There has never been a more exciting time to be a woman in architecture.
I have spent the last 16 years practicing architecture. (Graduating from UCT 2004)
I have spent months, days, weeks and nights lamenting the resolve of the peculiarities this field tosses. I have learnt that you always need to prove validation of your qualification, but it’s easier when you stay grounded to your ethics and maintain self-respect.
Being a woman in the field has always made me the anomaly around the board room table. It takes tolerance of difference to another level. I have been tested, pained and angered at commentary far beyond the accepted norm. I have endured many accounts of over validation to ensure equality and respect.
I have learnt that the best lessons are taught from the worst situations.
I have learnt that you don’t need to stand on the shoulders of giants all the time, it’s okay to cast the giant shadow and be different.
It’s alright to be the anomaly and just fine to be the game changer.
In fact, I am thrilled by the differences of this position. I am proudly a South African female Architect with just one life vision and that is: to simply give back through opportunity and ensure that we teach each other better humanity. Being a woman and being the anomaly is not a disposition but rather an opportunity.
I would not change a thing.
Being a woman in architecture gives me a chance to explore the opportunities for change.
If I could choose a career in another life time I would still choose architecture as I believe I have been given this task and talent to share. I do not own my architectural talent selfishly, I believe. On meeting Thuli Madosela (South African advocate and Professor of Law) and reflecting on her experiences as a woman, I learnt that it’s always best to accept that you are learning constantly, that you are growing constantly and while you are carving yourself into a desirable understanding of who you should be, you always see it as a goal and not as an achievement. Change is our only constant and ensuring we grow with the changing world around us we ensure our longevity.
I regard my career as the job that keeps my life balanced. I live to work and I am slowly learning to live. I now am a mother and wife and the strain of this selfless career can demand your every thought. I have learnt to say No! more often and to believe that as a woman there should be no guilt for shifting the balance from career to family.
For me, my career is my talent, honed with qualification but inevitably it’s me. It was always going to be me. I was an architect before I even knew I was going to be one.
I had inherent obsessions with planning and drawing meticulous details that infinitely would bore the ordinary. I am excited by design, exploration, art and technology.
I am thrilled every time I walk through a space I have planned for many months on paper. The thrill is addictive. To see a dreamt thought, become reality is my fuel. Every completion of architectural works keeps me hopeful to do more. The thrill of completion makes me blind to gender and difference, it rewards me, enough to know that I can do more and better next time.