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Women in Architecture Award winners announced

Two architects from Mexico have won the biggest accolades at this year’s Women in Architecture awards, held at Claridge’s today

Gabriela Carrillo, co-founder of TALLER Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo, was named Woman Architect of the Year 2017, seeing off a shortlist that included Julia Barfield of Marks Barfield.

Meanwhile Rozana Montiel, also a Mexican architect and head of Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura, was announced as the winner of the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture. 

Both women were praised by the judges for having ‘demonstrated excellence in design and a commitment to working both sustainably and democratically with local communities’.

The jury was particularly impressed with Carrillo’s Criminal Courts for Oral trials in Pátzcuaro, Mexico, which they stated ’skilfully answered a brief to design flexible spaces, complied with strict security rules and improved transparency in the judicial process’. The stone oval building of the criminal courts surrounds an arrangement of rectangular brick constructions with sloped tiled roofs to handle the western region’s rainy season.

The panel was also wowed by the work of the 44-year-old Montiel, in particular her ‘sensitive engagements with communities that activate simple architectural forms’, as seen with projects such as the Veracruz Cancha – a sports court built as part of a major overhaul of a public housing scheme – and her San Pablo Xalpa Unidad Habitacional housing.

As winner of the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture, Montiel will receive a £10,000 prize fund created in memory of the late Moira Gemmill, director of design at the V&A and latterly director of capital programmes at the Royal Collection Trust. The prize fund will support Montiel in her continuing professional development.

Montiel said: ‘All architecture is political. We can read in daily spaces the political priorities of our society. Architecture has the power to shape civic behaviour because, more than laying bricks, it lays the founding principles of public and social exchanges.’

AJ editor Christine Murray, founder of Women in Architecture programme, said: ‘The judges were impressed with Gabriela Carrillo’s ability to design flexible spaces, and work with light and shadow to such compelling effect. And they were inspired by Rozana Montiel’s sensitive and perceptive approach to community buildings.’

Also celebrated at the ceremony today (3 March) were Denise Scott Brown, who has won the Jane Drew Prize, and artist Rachel Whiteread – who has been awarded the Ada Louise Huxtable Prize.

Murray said: ‘Scott Brown’s wonderful architectural writing and thinking, her work and her wit have been an inspiring force for change. This honour squares the circle. Whiteread is an important influence and inspiration to the profession and richly deserving of the Ada Louise Huxtable Prize.’


The judging panel

  • Chair - AJ and AR editor-in-chief Christine Murray
  • Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times architecture critic
  • Eva Jiricna, architect and recipient of the 2013 Jane Drew Prize
  • Hanif Kara, co-founder AKTII
  • Laura Lee, chief executive of Maggie’s
  • Karen Livingstone, director of masterplan and estates at the Science Museum
  • Bob Sheil, director of the Bartlett
  • Victoria Thornton of Open City
  • Jane Wernick, structural engineer and founder of Jane Wernick Associates
  • Chris Wilkinson of WilkinsonEyre
  • Laura Mark, former AJ architecture editor, now of ZCD Architects

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