In 2021, the French Association pour la Recherche sur la Ville et l’Habitat (ARVHA or Research Institute on the City and Habitat) organised the ninth edition of the Prix des femmes architectes or Prize for Women Architects. This prize aims to highlight the works and careers of women architects, so that young architects can be inspired by existing female models, and to encourage gender equality in a profession with a strong male dominance.
In the “Young Woman Architect under 40” category, the winner is Eléonore Morand, a graduate of the Paris Malaquais school and founding partner of the Depeyre Morand office. Her credo: to consider each project as first and foremost producing architecture, with respect for technical and budgetary requirements. She commented on her prize for DivercityMag.
Is it difficult to practice this profession as a woman?
As an entrepreneur and freelancer, I have never particularly suffered from it. But the situation is more complex for those who make a career in an architectural office. During my twelve years of practice I have never felt that the relationship with the design offices and the teams on site were complicated or intimidating. It’s probably linked to the fact that I never present myself as someone who knows it all, but rather as someone eager to learn constantly, so I’m always listening. However, architecture remains a stressful discipline, whatever your gender. This award also allows me to draw attention to the status of the architect in France, which remains a difficult profession and subject to countless administrative constraints, for which we are not trained during our studies.
That said, to pick up on your gender-related question, since I graduated and I explain that I am an architect, people often ask me “if I am an interior or exterior designer”! That, clearly, is because I am a woman. It’s an absurd question…
You are a generalist…
Yes, we design individual houses as well as exceptional industrial buildings or, in collaboration with Alve, supported accommodation for people with disabilities.
Which of your projects would you like to highlight?
We have just completed a private house in Montreuil, whose particularity is to be a former workshop with a shed roof. In agreement with the owner, who is a screenwriter and who writes everywhere, we proposed to isolate only half of the available surface, the other half becoming a sort of relaxed winter garden (with, for example, a tub in the middle of the space). We also worked on the homely feel of the materials, leaving some parts very raw and others very elaborate.