In this place my company partner Marianne Loof has provided the professional world with striking observations on 'the issues of the day' for three years, as she calls it herself. Her columns were sharp, humorous, but always with a message. She has collected her column work in the book ‘Room for Improvement’. In her last column, Marianne discussed the inconvenience surrounding the appointment of Femke Halsema as mayor of Amsterdam. She projected this into the skewed man-woman ratio in architecture.
But a turnaround is visible. In our office the man-woman ratio is almost 50/50 for the first time. The shift is also visible when you look at stature. Recently it became known that Francine Houben will very rightly receive the BNA cube for her oeuvre. The jury, for the first time with a majority of women, typifies her as the ‘grande dame’ of Dutch architecture. The same BNA is led by another woman: Nathalie de Vries, recently also professor of Public Buildings at TU Delft. The curators of the most important architecture event, the Venice Biennale, are two Irish women this year: Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamarait. And Marianne, after various functions for the city and the branch, has recently started as chair of the board of ARCAM, Architecture Centre of Amsterdam, for the positioning and strengthening of the architectural climate in our capital.
Herman Hertzberger regularly stated in his lectures that women are potentially better architects than men. He praised their greater sensitivity and the ability to find and answer the real question behind the assignment without other agendas. If the columns of Marianne are a measure of that, he might have been right.
From this place I will do my best to continue the strijking columns of Marianne. Not as a man, but as an architect, to connect this wonderful profession with what we all have to deal with in the wide range of architecture.
October 2018, Cobouw.nl