International Women’s Day 2021 Perspectives

Woods Bagot women from around the world take us through their perpectives on diversity, and share projects that are meaningful to them. 

Lucille Ynosencio, Senior Associate, San Francisco.

Diversity in design means representation and empathy! Being a woman of mixed race & identity with a child who looks nothing like me, allows me to sit in many shoes at once. I am of the majority and so many simultaneous minorities as a White and Mexican American woman with Indigenous ancestry. Diversity is another set of eyes, insights and interests. I have engaged with so many worlds through ethnic dance in parallel to my professional career. The immeasurable richness of this experience is something I carry with me, and can only hope to offer back out again as hands on a project or a voice in a room.

“Diversity is another set of eyes, insights and experiences.”

Lucille Ynosencio

How can material express spirituality, and a space capture the ethos of worship? These were the dreams of one little jewel—a mosque concept for a mixed-use development in southeast Asia. The design seeks to dissolve stone into light, employing simple geometric principles toward this end.

For this particular mosque, women and men were intended to be separated. I chose to float the women in the space, so that they are elevated nearer to the drama of the light at the center and are given the ability to control their own visibility to the men at the ground level.

Meghan Nordeck, Senior Associate, Sydney

The transformation of Sydney’s Central Station, Australia’s busiest railway station, exemplifies the benefits of a diverse approach.

The existing station and its new concourses and platforms is expected to accommodate up to 450,000 passengers per day by mid-century. As a gateway both to and from Sydney these numbers include visitors to Sydney as well as local, regular users. The user experience has had to be a central consideration of the design.

“Design studios that reflect and represent the diversity of the communities they serve.”

Meghan Nordeck

Work in the transport sector interfaces with a broad range of disciplines, teams and expertise. The projects we deliver directly impact the public and the quality of their access to the public domain.

A studio that reflects and represents the diversity of the communities carried by the transport network brings great value by being well placed to understand and anticipate customer needs, while taking account of operational considerations.

Sophie La, Associate, Shanghai

Having lived and worked in Australia, Europe, North America and China, the exposure to these cultural and geographic contrasts has influenced my innate sensitivity to the representation and understanding of people. Now more than ever, there is the need for people to feel safe and at ease in the spaces we design and occupy.  


The value that diversity brings to design is the ability to create accessible experiences which have the potential to cross cultural borders and make one feel a sense of belonging. 

Trout & Partners’ new presence in Shanghai set a standard globally for their brand expression capturing their unique strategic positioning methodology. The challenge for this project was to develop a design approach which honoured this cross-cultural organisation; American founded and the Chinese progression. At the human scale this is manifested from the entry sequence; a gallery like space is made domestic by a welcoming host, a place to rest, a visual display showing the history of the firm and an undeniable view of Shanghai to enjoy a tea or glass of champagne. 

“Now more than ever, there is the need for people to feel safe and at ease in the spaces we design and occupy.

Sophie La

Leanne Farah, Architect, Dubai

Diversity brings with it a range of perspectives, characteristics, backgrounds, experiences, and skills – to name just a few values. Securing ideas and creativity not only develops with design knowledge, it also develops through diverse thinking which further develops and creates competitive advantage amongst the workplace.

Woods Bagot achieves this and does its best to foster diversity in design, and due to that, the global studio has been successfully able to organize, communicate and deliver.

The value diversity brings to design is immense, not only is it from within an office, but begins to exhibit itself as something attainable and encouraging to others outside this profession.

Diversity throughout a design process also brings creativity to the table like you’ve never seen before, new innovation that hasn’t been heard of yet, trying to make the impossible possible.

“Diversity throughout the design process brings creativity to the table like you’ve never seen before.”

Leanne Farah

When you’re a part of a diverse team, you have the privilage of gaining perspective into the worlds of other colleagues.

Leanne Farah

Since joining Woods Bagot in October 2019, I’ve worked on a number of projects in different regions and different scales with diverse teammates. Working in teams that range from 4 to 15 teammates, each team member was unique and knowledgeable in their own way, motivating in their own way. We all celebrated each others’ differences at all times, gaining perspective into the worlds of our other colleagues.

I’ve worked with such a knowledgeable and patient group of colleagues on competitions based in Saudi Arabia, and the beauty of this was being able to engage with the diverse and an immense pool of differences to challenge our minds and become creative. We built on each other’s experiences and knowledge to help achieve the common goal of success and pride.

Sue Fenton, Senior Associate, Melbourne

 

Diversity increases innovative ideas, creates more relevant design outcomes that respond to a broader community and creates a platform for meaningful exchange. 

Diversity in our teams provides a visible role model that can lead to inspiring and attracting the next generation of designers from a broader range of experience. There is still lots of work to do in this space and we can all contribute to positive change. The design journey can be a powerful platform for this change, the process can impact us and our clients, broaden outlooks, provide role models that champion equity and inclusion and reduce prejudice. 

Diversity in our teams provides a visible role model that can lead to inspiring and attracting the next generation of designers from a broader range of experience.

Sue Fenton

Recently we developed an interior for an Australian university who are setting up a campus in Jakarta. With our experience working across different regions we already had the framework to connect and research from a distance but couldn’t simply apply our own assumptions. We immersed in the site virtually, researched local culture through colleagues in the region and deepened our understanding of the geography, climate and local craft and textiles. The design challenges became the strengths of the design proposition. We had to employ a whole new unfamiliar palette of materials to execute the design and work closely with local trade and supplier expertise. Collaborating with local architects and designers has enriched our understanding of the region, forged new relationships, and will have a lasting positive impact for both the region and our team based here in Australia.  

Yin Hui Chung, Architect, London

St Mary’s Calne Library

Part of what makes great design takes into consideration a diversity of opinions from a variety of disciplines. Infusing a broader perspective in the design process increases creativity, healthy debate and problem-solving – a process to make things better. This diverse exposure brings value in developing broad outlook and empathetic design approach to create architecture for various stakeholders.

Woods Bagot London studio is brimming with diversity in different forms. We are lucky to be surrounded by such a rich set of talents from different cultural backgrounds, and leadership team that is open to innovation and new thinking. 

I have worked on a library building for St Mary’s Calne School which demonstrates these values. This is a new library at the heart of the girls’ school campus, intended to provide an inspirational hub for learning and encouraging collaborations.

It was great to share ideas and experience across Woods Bagot global studios from the outset of the design process where expertise from different sectors including workplace interior and technical innovation teams were also brought to the table to design this dynamic space for the pupils. 

“Infusing a broader perspective in the design process increases creativity, healthy debate and problem-solving – a process to make things better.”

Yin Hui Chung

Amanda Sigafoos, Marketing Manager, Los Angeles

When design teams are diverse, they are more likely to explore the boundaries of any given idea

Amanda Sigafoos

I worked on the recent SEA C-1 Building Expansion pursuit in collaboration with Miller Hull, James Berry, Richard Spencer, Sandra Ventura, Matt Ducharme, and ERA-co to pull together what might be the most succinct statement of qualifications for an aviation project, ever: a 5-page document. The pursuit team worked tirelessly to fine tune complex ideas into a highly curated and word-smithed document that was a pure expression of our combined experience and vision. Each person on the team tested and re-tested every phrase and idea, over an over, until consensus was reached. The passion flowed through to the client with a successful proposal and team win. 

When design teams are diverse, they are more likely to explore the boundaries of any given idea. It opens the door for discovery, innovation, change, and iteration, resulting in stronger and more robust ideas and solutions for the client. 

Elena Ma, Associate, Hong Kong

In workplace projects, we often begin the design process with a series of visioning workshops and interviews with the users. These open platforms offer an opportunity for a diverse group of representatives to voice out opinions and to participate in the brainstorming process. We learn to listen carefully. A successful design lies in its ability to adapt to various goals, needs, personalities, while supporting productive activities and meaningful interactions. The diverse views collected from the users at the beginning become key to creating more holistic solutions and experiences. 

We create places that are inhabited by people with various backgrounds and personalities. To design for people, first we must strive to understand the people we are designing for. Diversity gives everyone a voice, and exposes us as designers to different ideas, perspectives and solutions we wouldn’t have seen through our own lens. It challenges us to have empathy and an open mind to account for individual’s differences and uniqueness. 

To design for people, first we must strive to understand the people we are designing for. 

Elena Ma

Hayley Packer, Studio Leader – Workplace Interiors, Adelaide

The Australian Bragg Centre will be the first Proton Therapy Centre located within Australia and is a great example of diversity in design. Corporate workplaces, clinical treatment spaces, patients, and the general public all need to integrate seamlessly and coexist in the same spaces. The complex nature of this multi-functional building relies heavily on conversations between health professionals and designers to create spaces that are highly functional from a clinical viewpoint, but also to create a welcoming, safe and inclusive environment that is critical for the patient experience.  

Diversity of thought in the design process allows for a truly considered outcome. Both professional and personal experiences from a varying group should influence the direction of a project, allowing the designer to understand what is required from multiple vantage points and create an innovative solution. 

Diversity of thought in the design process allows for a truly considered outcome.

Hayley Packer

Sorrel Anderson, Designer, New York

Right now, I am working on a mixed-use development in Elizabeth NJ. Our core team is almost entirely women – so it feels like a step in the right direction towards industry-wide diversity. It is so exciting to be a part of the changing demographics.

“Diversity in design brings us the value of varied life experience, education, and approach.”

Sorrel Anderson

Diversity in design brings us the value of varied life experience, education, and approach. According to Mckinsey and Company, racially and ethnic diverse teams perform 35% above their industry medians and 15% better with gender diversity. When our design teams reflect the communities for which we are designing, we can produce more creative and equitable approaches that resonate with everyone.

Hua Wan, Associate, Beijing

“Teams from different professional backgrounds can contribute their strengths and be inspired by cross-disciplinary and cross-regional collaboration.”

Hua Wan

Diversity is what W-B always advocates and adheres to. With all these extraordinary designers from different cultural backgrounds, professional disciplines, and knowledge to spark design thinking, every workday can be inspiring – refreshed with infinite possibilities.

The Shimao Commercial Center in Shenzhen, China, was really inspiring. The project kicked off with the combined intelligence of architecture, interior, and ERA from studios all over the world. The teams from different professional backgrounds contributed their strengths and enjoyed the inspiration they found in the process of cross-disciplinary and cross-regional collaboration.”

Kush Vehalla, Associate, Sydney

The Transport sector has been an active hub in NSW and many other states in Australia generating a number of city transforming projects for public benefit – requiring diverse teams to do so.

Passionate about cities, architecture and the way people interact with the places and spaces, I have dedicated my career to working in the city shaping transport infrastructure projects creating meaningful connections between people and the built environment that surrounds us.

It has been an inspiring journey working with WB Transport Sector leaders supporting gender diversity and inclusion in realising design excellence and business goals. I highly value the important role innovation, design excellence and regenerative design play in shaping successful urban environments.

“Equal opportunities environments in the workplace promote and increase ambitions in the workplace.”

Kush Vehalla

Equal opportunities environments in the workplace promote and increase ambitions in the workplace. The sense of progression represented by equal gender representation in senior roles in woods Bagot vastly increase productivity and positivity which filter through the entire office and design culture

 

 

WOODS BAGOT is a global architecture studio.


We span 17 studios across 6 regions.
We do not adhere to a signature style.
We are a multi-authorship practice.
We create alongside clients, communities & other creatives.
We specialize in Architecture, Interiors & Masterplanning.
We explore data to predict changing human behaviour.


WE ARE W–B

 

 

Latest from the Global Studio