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RIAI Presents Honorary Fellowship to French Architect Odile Decq

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2018

Awarding the Honorary Fellowship, RIAI President David Browne to Odile Decq. Photo by Conor Healy Photography


The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) welcomed a new Member on 27 November – Paris-based Architect, Odile Decq, received an Honorary Fellowship for her contribution to architecture and the built environment and for promoting diversity in the profession. This event was supported by KBC Business Banking and the OPW.

In awarding the Honorary Fellowship, RIAI President David Browne said: “ I believe that Odile Decq can be very proud of the great legacy she has created in the built environment, in the world of education and in her quest for equality and diversity and it is with great pleasure that I present he with this Honorary Fellowship of the RIAI. Odile Decq is right when she says that we need to reform our education system and culture to help young women truly achieve what they want in architecture. She has pointed to the almost complete dearth of big project commissions awarded to women, saying ‘Women are never commissioned for big projects, which is not right and we need to be asking Why?’”

Odile Decq was in Dublin to give a lecture in the RIAI’s new The Groundbreaker lecture series. 

The series has been conceived by the RIAI and Architect Carole Pollard, FRIAI, to recognise Irish and international architects who are pioneers, innovators or have broken new ground in practice.  Carole Pollard, who introduced the lecture, said: ”I cannot think of anyone more qualified than Odile Decq to push the shovel into the earth as the first Groundbreaker.  She is an inspirational architect, an inspirational woman. Her elegant architectural work and her eloquent words will inspire all architects and all women who are pushing their way uphill towards their dreams.”  Carole Pollard also referred to the early Irish women architects “who bravely opened new doors into a profession whose DNA was exclusively male”, including Eileen Gray, Florence Fulton Dobson and the RIAI’s first female member Kathleen Carroll who became a member in 1928.

Born in Laval, Brittany Odile Decq is an award-winning architect, urban planner and Professor of Architecture. She is the founder of the Paris firm, Studio Odile Decq which works across the disciplines of Architecture, Art, Urbanism and Design. Odile designs in all scales – from places to buildings and from interiors to furniture.  Other than just a style, an attitude or a process, her work takes shape in a complete universe that embraces urban planning, architecture, design and art.

Notable projects of Odile Decq's expressive and consummate style are the redevelopment  of the UNESCO Conference Hall in Paris in 2001, the MACRO Contemporary Art Museum in Rome in 2010, Fangshan Tangshan National Geopark Museum in Nanjing, China in 2015, Le CARGO, offices and start-up incubator in Paris 2016, the Saint-Ange Residence in Grenoble. She is currently working on the New Cyprus Museum in Cyprus and the Halle Totem in Montpelier.

Saint_Ange_Residency_Studio_Odile_Decq_RH2375-0036_©Roland Halbe Courtesy of the architects

Saint Ange Residency Studio Odile Decq - ©Roland Halbe Courtesy of the architects

Odile has been a professor at the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and has also taught at the Bartlett in London. She left the École Spéciale d'Architecture in 2012 and subsequently built and opened her own school, the Confluence Institute for Innovation and Creative Strategies in Architecture in Lyon. She co-founded and leads the school along with architect Matteo Cainer.

Studio Odile Decq was an invited participant with her exhibit Phantom’s Phantom in FREESPACE, the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, curated by Irish Architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. Her project Phantom’s Phantom has been described as a sensual reinvention of the Opera Garnier Restaurant in response to the FREESPACE theme.

Odile Decq has been recognised internationally for her work and contribution to diversity: In 2016 she received the Jane Drew Prize “for raising the profile of women within architecture” and being "a creative powerhouse, spirited breaker of rules and advocate of equality". Among many other awards, she also received the Architizer’s Lifetime Achievement Award in New York in 2017.  She has been a member of the French Architecture Academy since 1997, Commandeur de l'ordre des Arts et Lettres since 2001 and a Chevalier of the Legion D’Honneur since 2003.

Odile has been quoted as saying “I’m still at war. Against received ideas. Against the principle of precaution. Against today’s general timidity. Against the fact that no one is prepared to take risks anymore, or, consequently, responsibility. Against the fact that people think the world is getting worse while I think it can always get better. There are so many things to fight against. Every morning I set out for the battlefield.”

From LR -  RIAI President David Browne, Carole Pollard, Odile Decq, Shelley McNamara Grafton Architects and RIAI CEO Kathryn Meghen

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Categories: Awards | RIAI Press Release

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