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conversations with three architects

cepezed | lucas van der wee

An average of 24 per cent of architects in the Netherlands are women. With 18 per cent female architects, cepezed is below that, so we aim for a more equal distribution. On International Women's Day, Frederique van Alphen, Tatjana Anholts and Sonja Drašković discuss their ambitions and what makes the profession so appealing to them.

When asked why they became architects, both Frederique and Tatjana and Sonja spontaneously sum up what they do. These vary from making furniture and jewellery to drawing and music. They are also interested in social developments - after all, architecture is made by and for people. Within cepezed, the three architects tackle many different subjects, although their work is always directly or indirectly related to sustainability and circularity. All three consider cooperation an important - and fun - part of the profession. Besides, "solving a complex issue or realising a sustainable future does not work on its own," says Frederique. Sonja: "I am also just extremely eager to learn. I think it's great that so much knowledge is available at cepezed, that you can always contact someone with yet another specialism. Because of the current sustainability challenge, I think multidisciplinary offices are the future."

conquer the world
As an architect, Frederique wants to make the world a better place. 'And conquer it', she adds with a wink. Her main goal is 'a satisfied user, in buildings with a soul'. She likes to 'absorb' new knowledge and therefore likes the diversity of her assignment portfolio. "Although it actually applies to every project that it stands or falls with good communication. This is necessary simply to unravel the assignment." Frederique feels proud when an ultimate result has been achieved through the joint efforts of her team and the goodwill of clients and users. "As, for example, with the hydraulic laboratory in Nieuwegein, the renovation task of a building by J.J.P. Oud, or the complex political processes involved in designing 4 town halls. And now with the reuse of the Zuiderstrand Theatre."

look, I made that!
Tatjana specialised in sustainability while studying. "To keep developing myself afterwards, I obtained a certificate for BREAAM expert and for Well AP. I take the most pleasure from designing, but this knowledge is an added value that I like to share with others. This is possible within cepezed in the sustainability working group. There, we join hands to make projects more sustainable. But the office can also be a lot more sustainable, and I want to involve colleagues in this. I am proud that I can lead the way in the field of sustainability at cepezed".Among other projects, Tatjana worked on the Eemgoed project, which was all about sustainability, community and self-sufficiency. "I became an architect partly because my father and grandfather worked in construction. They pointed out to me what they had built in Leiden. Now I can point to Eemgoed and say, 'Look, I made that!' That feels very special after all."

on the edge
"As a woman in architecture, you are always on the edge. That's okay, 'I like being on the edge'," Zaha Hadid once said in an interview. Sonja cites this quote because she recognises herself in it. Although for her, the feeling of being on the edge does not strictly have to do with being a woman. Anyway, she sees it as an advantage, because being on the edge is the best position to change the field. "It is precisely when you're on the fringe that you can make a dent in something, or a dent. In a way, I'm an activist, but I don't want to annoy anyone. Positivity gets you further."