To mark one hundred years of the Architectural Association in Bedford Square, the AA is celebrating the centenary of women in the school (1917-2017) with AA XX 100, a multi-media project linking a major exhibition, lectures, website, international conference and publications, including a collection of historical and critical writing about AA women.
At the AA General Meeting of 17 July 1917, a proposal was made to alter the bylaws to admit women as students. Four women were in the first intake of 1917-18. Today almost a century later, the intake is roughly 50/50 female/male students, although the profession itself remains unbalanced. Over the next three years, culminating in 2017, this multi-media projectâ€“AA XX 100â€“ will represent the work of AA women, its graduates and teachers, who are among the most important architects and designers, educators and historians of the 20th-21st century, some celebrated, others unrecognised. Their work constitutes modern architecture at its best, stretching from Elisabeth Scottâ€™s mould-breaking Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford (now the RSC) to Zaha Hadidâ€™s inimitable, dynamic MAXXI; from Mary Meddâ€™s (nÃ©e Crowley) school building to Patty Hopkinâ€™s rich but elegantly restrained Glyndebourne Opera; from the social activism and people-oriented architecture of the inter-war generation of Judith Ledeboer and Justin Blanco White to the late twentieth-century praxis of Matrix; from Norah Aiton & Betty Scottâ€™s early industrial modernism in the 1930s to Julia Barfieldâ€™s landmark, London Eye. Their work and lives have transformed the architectural landscape, yet these women remain for the most part out of mainstream design history, education and research.