25 March 2021

IAWA – Session 1 – Morning

IAWA, 2021

9:45 – Donna dunay – faia, iawa chair

Welcome and opening remarks.


In 1928 Elizabeth Whitworth Scott (1898-1972), granddaughter of Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878), won the competition for the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The international competition had sought to replace the burned-down neo-gothic theatre with one that was to be “the most modern and best equipped theatre in the world.” Today, the theatre remains one of the principal stages for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Scott’s winning of the competition yielded great attention in the press and consideration is given to her on occasion in historiographies such as that by A. Powers in 2005 for whom the event was an ‘unsurpassed feat’, yet very little literature exists beyond this acknowledgment.

The contemporary architectural press, newspapers and trade journals mostly commented on the modernist design of the theatre and on the gender of the architect. Although women architects had entered the field since the beginning of the 20th century and by the early 1930s led independent practices, their suitability for architecture was mainly perceived as being in the realm of designing homes. In 1928 the North Shields Daily News wrote that the woman architect “ought to be able to contribute ideas that will put the domestic life on more common-sense lines that is the case now.” The design of large-scale projects and public buildings was seen as beyond the intellectual capacities of a women architect.

In this context, as well as in the light of the diverse attitudes towards Continental architectural Modernism in the UK, this paper investigates the press responses to Scott’s winning design of the Shakespeare Memorial theatre. The focus is on the question of whether this event triggered a public discourse further cementing the notion that women architects are best suited to designing homes, or conversely if it broadened the public perception of women architects and their capabilities.

10:20 – Mia aKERFELT, Ph.D

Hilda Hongell (née Sjöblom) 1867-1952, is the first known European female master-builder with a formal exam, attained in 1893. Throughout her unique career, she independently produced hundreds of drawings for private homes in her hometown Mariehamn on the Åland Islands between Finland and Sweden. During the 1890s, she was the sole producer of drawings in the town, and between 1889 and 1902, 74% of all drawings made for Mariehamn were signed by her. The paper addresses the question of how to understand a career that is singular in every aspect, and discusses the methodological and theoretical framework needed for understanding the complex web of societal possibilities and individual agency which made her work possible. At the same time, the paper would contribute to making Hongell and her work known internationally.

Hongell was unique, even in the progressive Finnish architectural field in the 1890s. In her early teens, she began working together with her father on his drawings. After his death in 1888, she took over the business and went on to formalize her professionality in the Helsinki Industrial School, from where she became the first woman to be granted an exam as master-builder. Her hometown tried to save the local economy by opening a spa in 1889, and Hongell provided the townspeople with drawings for the fashionable rental housing demanded by the bourgeois tourists from Sweden and Russia. For decades, she was the only female master builder in Finland with an independent career and customers of her own, and the combination of available education, a supporting family and a large circle of customers as well as the booming tourism made it possible for Hongell to become the only woman in Scandinavia who has designed a whole town.

10:40 – q&a panel discussion

Panel discussion (15 min)


Carlota Quintanilha was born in 1923 and died in Lisbon, 2015. She lived and worked as an architect in the largest former Portuguese colonies in Africa – Angola and Mozambique – between the fifties and the early seventies. When she studied architecture, the presence of women in the Portuguese schools was reduced. She joined at the Lisbon Fine Arts School, but eventually got the degree in Porto School, in 1953, where she met her future husband, the architect Joao Jose Tinoco. After marriage, the couple left for Africa, a territory full of opportunities to test the modern architecture that both advocated since school times. Quintanilha started to practice architecture and urbanism after her arrival to Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), in 1956, when they began drawing ephemeral pavilions and started to attend private clients. After 1960, the couple developed commissions for the Public Works Board of the former Portuguese colony, sometimes in partnership with other Portuguese-Mozambican colleagues. Some projects involved relevant buildings in the colonial realm, as the Government District and Department headquarters, in towns like Vila Cabral (now Lichinga, in Niassa, 1961-68) or Vila Amélia (now Cabo Delgado, in Pemba, 1963-66). The couple also designed several aeronautical facilities as the Porto Amélia and Vila Cabral aerodromes and worked, with the architect Alberto Soeiro, on the Head Offices of the Maputo Aeronautical Services and on the Nampula airport. In 1966, Quintanilha begun to distance herself from her husband and started working with other colleagues. It is possible that the works testified by her in several interviews and in her personal resumé as being exclusively her design were produced between that year and 1972, when she returned to Lisbon. But, regarding to her work, the greatest challenge of historiography is to understand exactly the extent of her participation in the works she signed during the Tinoco-Quintanilha partnership, due to its design and technical high qualities, as the architect herself renounced that period of her life, partly as a result of her traumatic marriage.

11:20 – sigal DAVIDI, Ph.D

Dora Gad (1912-2003) had an extremely successful, impressive and long career that began in 1936 in Palestine and developed further after the establishment of the state of Israel. Her work stood out for its innovation and for its important contribution to interior design in Israel. Gad played a key role in designing projects for the newly established Israeli national institutions. Her interior designs, which covered a variety of field, were unique in character and represented the nascent Israeli identity in an original way.

Dora worked together with her husband Yehezkel until 1958 when he fell ill and died. After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and through the 1950s, they became the most prominent interior designers in Israel. Through these early projects, they developed a new design concept that represented the young state’s official image. Their projects included official buildings and public institutions such as the residence of the Foreign Minister, the National Library, Israel’s embassies, the offices of El-Al, Israel’s newly established national carrier, El Al’s new airplanes and Israel’s first national commercial shipping company’s nine ships. Gad attached great importance to incorporate Israeli art into the public interiors she designed, promoting specific male and female artists and Israeli art in general.

Throughout the 1960s, Gad was involved in planning key national projects in Israel. The restrained and dignified style Gad developed for those projects defined the visual language that became identified with formal Israel. Two of Gad’s most important and prestigious works were the interior of the Israel Museum and the interior design of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament building. Gad was the first woman to win the Israel Prize in architecture, Israel’s most important and prestigious one. It was awarded to Gad in tribute of her thirty years of work in Israel, during which she advanced and shaped Israel’s interior design world.

11:40 – Q&A

Panel Discussion (15 min)

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