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Agata Twardoch talks about her favorite architects

02 of January '24

The article is from A&B issue 9|23

What is your favorite architect and what do you appreciate her most for?

Favorite female architects themselves!

I have many favorite female architects. In fact, ever since I realized that it's not the girls who are not competent enough and that's why they're not in the pantheon, it's that they're not (weren't?) in the pantheon because they don't have access to it—I have my favorite female architects alone! The great architects have ceased to interest me, and it will probably take a few years before I start paying attention to them again.

So, first of all, I value and admire the pioneer women—among them Brukalska, Syrkus, Adamczewska-Wejchert, Skibniewska. They were the ones who infected me with a love for urban planning, for housing and for large estates, and Syrkusova, I'm afraid, started the process that made me a leftist.

Secondly, I value Ewa Kuryłowicz—especially for the fact that in 1999, when I started my studies, she was the only Polish architect we had heard of at all. She was also a professor, and I remember several conversations we had about my doctorate, which was being born in pain. She was the role model I needed—because when you're in your twenties, it's hard to imagine yourself in the role of a mustachioed demigod. One can possibly in the role of his assistant, and this role never suited me.
Years later, Eve found herself in "Architects"—a book with collected conversations with female architects, urban planners and scientists who inspired me. In addition to Ewa, the volume included my mother—the first and most important architect in my life, who taught me to be attentive to the user and an absolute love for logic (which, by the way, sometimes makes my life very difficult). In the book I talk to female architects from different generations, because I admire not only those older than me, but also those much younger, for example Karolina Częczek, Paulina Grabowska and the design duo of Barbara Nawrocka and Dominika Wilczyńska.

In "Architects" there was a conversation with Aleksandra Wasilkowska, or rather two, because at the end of the first one Ola said: „But what do you mean! You're doing an interview with me, and who's going to do one with you? I will!”, and a few months later she actually did. At this point I have to devote more space to Ola—she is probably the first person I genuinely envy for what she designs. I find her realizations so logical, beautiful, resulting from the context and multifaceted, that every time I think to myself that I would like to design it myself, and that I wouldn't do it better at all! Such a market in Blonie, for example: phenomenally photogenic, adapted to various forms of commerce (small stalls, large stalls, a store, a place for Mrs. Basia selling flowers from her garden, a place for farmers and their crops sold from cars) and spending time after hours, and designed with a nod to the environment (retention, biodiversity, birds and pollinators). What's more, another realization by Ola that pulls everyday architecture out of the shadows. Another one, because to Ola's credit she has not only more marketplaces—such as the one on Warsaw's Bakalarska Street, whose design and redevelopment are taking place continuously, without interrupting trade, but also Warsaw's public toilets and a book devoted to them, among other things: "Architecture of the Shadow."

I also have a few favorite female architects who are not in my book and who will probably be in the next one, if I decide to write it: of the young female architects, it will probably be Marta Czachorowska, founder of M+Design, a studio that designs hospitals and health facilities; of my generation, Lila Krzycka, a wonderful colleague from college, whose joy of design and belief in the causality of architecture never cease to amaze me; from the older ones, Belinda Tato, founder of the Madrid office Ecosistema Urbano and a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
And many, many others! Finally, I have my favorite architects themselves!

Agata Twardoch

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