One of the 100 best female architects in the world
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One of the 100 best female architects in the world

Architecture’s leading voice, Professor Harriet Harris, along with academics and writers Naomi House and Monica Parinder and Dezeen editor Tom Ravenscroft, present the stories of 100 women who are making their mark on the world of architecture today in the Royal Institute of British Architects’ publication 100 Women Architects in Practice.

This publication is a token of recognition of the significant contributions made by women architects worldwide and its launch will take place in New York, with events planned around the world in 2024. Cypriot Elena K. Tsolakis, founding member and director of Kyriakos Tsolakis Architects, based in Cyprus and London, was one of the first to be notified that she would be one of them.

Her architect father started his practice in Australia in 1973. Within twenty years he completed over 500 projects. “What we learnt from our father is community service. Because he was very active in the issues of the local Greek community, he gave us this particular approach. As a business, we consciously focus on projects that can have a greater social impact, such as a women’s shelter, an observatory, a culinary school,” Elena explains and adds: “I feel Greek first and Cypriot second. Hellenism in us is something that Greeks abroad embrace with more passion.”

Elena Tsolaki, responded as to her distinction and whether there is a numbered order of priority in the list: “No, we have not been given a number. No, we have not been given a number. They have sorted it into geographical areas and no hierarchy. The authors went through a process over 4 years. For me, this recognition highlights the significant contribution to the architectural landscape of so many women, in a field traditionally dominated by men. In essence, the book highlights the important role women have in shaping a better built environment and I hope it can encourage young women to enter this industry.”

On the question of whether women’s architecture exists as a concept, Elena Tsolaki answers: “I believe that it does not exist. My professional and scientific status is independent of my gender. Each individual has their own way of seeing and interpreting the world that is not entirely based on their gender. Education, history, life experiences, travel and the unique character of each individual is what shapes the architectural approach. I run our design studio with my brothers, Nicodemus and Cassandra, both architects, and I can say that there are many similarities in our design approach – and our gender doesn’t seem to affect the way we approach our work.”

“Our goal at the studio is to work on projects that are publicly accessible. We prioritise projects that can have the greatest positive social impact. Architecture with purpose and meaning. The National Observatory of Cyprus (Troodos Observatory) and the Gastronomic Park and School in Moniatis are some of our projects in mountainous areas that have the potential to act as catalysts. These projects will not only be employers, but will be a destination for families, tourists, universities, schools, and this has a significant positive impact on the economic development of the region. At an urban scale it is also important to have good architecture that can have a positive social impact.”