If you don't know the award-winning work of 60-year-old French architect Odile Decq, suffice it to say you're missing out. What better time than Women's History Month to shine a little light in her direction? The Parisian designer, who founded a studio in 1985 with her late partner Benoît Cornette and has since established herself as a forerunner in the field with inventive projects across France and Europe, Decq was named late last month the winner of the 2016 Jane Drew Prize for women in architecture.
The award, which is named for English modernist architect Jane Drew (1911-1996), is bestowed annually by the U.K.-based Women in Architecture awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Zaha Hadid is previous winner, clinching the award in 2012. it will be conferred on Decq at a luncheon tomorrow in London.
Decq recently told London trade mag The Architectural Review that she's "still at war" with the discrimination and misogyny in the profession that hinders women architects and discourages more women from joining the industry, according to a write-up in Dezeen. Of the 1,152 women questioned in a recent survey produced by the Women in Architecture awards program, a whopping (but, sadly, unsurprising) 72 percent said they had at some point been subject to sexual harassment, discrimination, or bullying. This was up from 60 percent reported in the same survey in 2015.
Of course, Decq's work is worth celebrating on its merits alone: Her projects frequently require feats of engineering—suspending volumes within building atria; making use of innovations in glass and steel—in the service of accommodating a difficult site or providing the most carefully attuned space for a client, rather than in the service of spectacle. The "punk rock architect" (see photo above) doesn't lean too heavily on a particular aesthetic, but is an avowed fan of red and black, employing each color to dazzling ends for projects as far-ranging as the restaurant at Paris's historic Palais Garnier to a contemporary art space in Rennes, France, the FRAC Bretagne.
Decq's no stranger to Curbed's pages: We've written about her glorious Banque Populaire de l'Ouest (BPO) Building, which is under threat of demolition and her restoration work on an eye-popping, bubblegum-pink villa by Pierre Cardin on the Côte d'Azur.