Why architecture needs more female models


Sue Sparling, Director of DLA Architecture, at Oak House, on Park Lane, Leeds.  The development is a six-story student townhouse program.  Image: Giles Rocholl Photography.

Sue Sparling, Director of DLA Architecture, at Oak House, on Park Lane, Leeds. The development is a six-story student townhouse program. Image: Giles Rocholl Photography.

Sue Sparling, director of DLA Architecture in Leeds, said that while many women choose to study architecture at university, the number of those who complete the full degree is far lower than their male counterparts.

Ms Sparling, the only female director of the cabinet, has spent the past 23 years helping to reshape Leeds city center in an area dominated by men.

“I was talking to our student today and she said that the fact that she sees me doing this job means that she feels capable of doing it,” she told the Yorkshire Post. “Training takes a long time, so we need a way to encourage young women to stay in the profession. I am very passionate about bringing people.

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Over the years, Ms. Sparling has been instrumental in the design of many of the city’s well-known landmarks including One Brewery Wharf, Roberts Wharf and Echo Central 1 & 2. She has also been involved in the planning stages of Majestic, the Channel 4 headquarters.

Current projects include 12 King Street – the former office of the Walker Morris law firm, which is being renovated into a seven-story office building with a shared rooftop terrace and sky lounge.

Designing buildings both in the context of a pandemic and for a post-pandemic future presents both challenges and opportunities.

“It’s an interesting project because it comes at a time when the demand for office space is changing. We have undergone a complete design change to make the core areas adaptable so that if we go through something like covid again, there can be easier one-way systems, ”Ms. Sparling said. “But at the same time, we have created spaces for connection and collaboration. “

She added, “It’s a smart building, so there is less contact as the surfaces and lighting have Bluetooth connectivity. There is also an application for the management of the installations.

The customer was already on board with smart offices, but what covid has done is reinforce the need to invest in this technology.

Meanwhile, the sustainable development agenda is also accelerating.

Two of DLA’s current projects – the former Tech Campus site, which is being transformed into student housing, and St Cecilia Place, which consists of 352 apartments near the Quarry Hill master plan – are both seeking to connect to the Leeds PIPES heating network.

The network provides low-carbon heat and hot water, reusing heat that is already produced at the Leeds recycling and energy recovery facility.

Discussions for the student tower focus on making it more environmentally friendly through sustainable concrete. “A lot of the discussions we have on this site started on day one, which is really interesting because we can influence that,” Ms. Sparling said.

Creating more green spaces is a key to the future of Leeds city center. “It’s about creating green and liveable cities,” Ms. Sparling said. “We want to create better parks and places for people to want to be downtown. It is also a question of community spirit, small changes as well as big changes.

Meanwhile, the new buildings should get taller. “There is an aspiration to put more Leeds on the map,” she said. “We need bold buildings as orientation points, but they should still feel part of Leeds. It’s about creating something that people identify with.

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