We were excited to read The Telegraph’s recent article featuring Arckit in their list of 12 brilliant, gender-neutral gifts for children this Christmas!

Arckit GO Colours, our award-winning architectural model building set, was mentioned alongside other gender-neutral toys such as traditional guardsmen skittles by Traidcraft, a wooden set by Primo that teaches young children how to code, a ‘make your own dinosaur’ kit from Gifts For Little Ones, and the K’Nex ferris wheel building set at Smyths Toys.

It’s encouraging to see that more parents are steering clear of stereotypical ‘pink and blue’ gender-biased toys this year in favour of gender-neutral gifts. Rather than restricting children in play by gender roles, we have always believed that young creators should be encouraged to follow their interests and abilities.

Arckit is equally popular with both boys and girls, and we are delighted that our kits are enabling more children to explore their creativity and learn about the architectural profession. For budding makers in search of encouragement, there are many influential female architects that you can look to for inspiration.

Whilst this is not a definitive list, here is a selection of some of the most important female architects who we think are shaping the industry today.

INFLUENTIAL WOMEN IN ARCHITECTURE

Angela Brady OBE is an Irish architect of the award-winning private practice Brady Mallalieu Architects and Past President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). She is also highly regarded within education for her role as a STEMnet ambassador and has been an advocate of Arckit as an intuitive hands-on design tool for learning. We are sincerely grateful to Angela for her support and encouragement from the outset.

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Laycock Street residential development in London by Brady Mallalieu Architects.

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Laura Poenar of Lyall Bills Young, Sara Thomas and Angela Brady of Brady Mallalieu Architects discussing the merits of gender-neutral games.

The President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is Jane Duncan of Jane Duncan Architects. Jane has campaigned to increase the diversity of, and equality of access into and through the profession. She has since been appointed RIBA’s Equality and Diversity champion and sits on the CIC Diversity committee in order to create improvements across the whole construction industry.

There have also been two recent female presidents of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI). Carole Pollard is the President of the RIAI and Michelle Fagan of FKLarchitects in Dublin is an RIAI Past President. Both are highly respected architects within the industry.

Another notable architect is Amanda Levete, a Stirling Prize-winning British architect and the principal of the architecture and design studio AL A. She is the founder of Future Systems and is recognised for projects such as the Selfridges department store in Birmingham and the Lord’s Media Centre.

Ireland has produced several acclaimed architects.

Sheila O’Donnell of O’Donnell + Tuomey is an internationally renowned architect. Her practice, which she runs with John Tuomey, won the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for the LSE Student Centre. This is regarded as the world’s most prestigious award in architecture.

LSE Student Centre, London by O'Donnell + Tuomey.

LSE Student Centre, London by O’Donnell + Tuomey.

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects have also won numerous awards and are known around the world for their innovative designs such as the Universita Luigi Bocconi, ‘World Building of the Year’ 2008 and Kingston University London. Their University Campus UTEC Lima has only just been awarded this year’s RIBA International Prize.

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Top row: exterior and interior of the University Luigi Bocconi by Grafton Architects. Bottom row: University Campus UTEC Lima by Grafton Architects.

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Jane Duncan PRIBA presenting the the RIBA International Prize to Grafton Architects for their UTEC university project in Peru, on stage with Sir Richard Rogers.

Then there are the great female architects of the past.

Eileen Gray is perhaps one of the most important female architects in recent history and was a pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture. Born in Ireland, her furniture design and architecture are now iconic.

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Furniture design by Eileen Gray.

Zaha Hadid was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize and later went on to win the Stirling Prize. She was made a Dame for her services to architecture and in 2015 became the first woman to win the Royal Gold Medal. Her death in 2016 came as a great shock and seismic loss to the industry and beyond. She will be deeply missed.

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Port House in Antwerp, Belgium by Zaha Hadid Architects.

Inspiring the next generation of architects

It’s important to inspire the next generation of designers and to create opportunity within architecture – this has been our mission from the start.

That’s why we developed an Arckit Education Programme for teachers to run hands-on architecture courses in schools and universities. We have already seen so many talented young makers enrolling on our courses and we are excited to see what some of these budding architects will create in the future.

We are also pleased to be part of the STEM/STEAM movement in the US, using Arckit as an architectural model building system to open up the world of architecture to everyone. Thanks again to the amazing Arckit community for your incredible support this year – let’s continue to make a difference in 2017!