The Architectural Association in London has produced some of the biggest names in architecture including: Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Amanda Levete and the recently departed Will Alsop.
Yet, according to the Guardian, it has never had a leader like Eva Franch i Gilabert, a woman described as “a tornado… truly a force of nature” by those who have worked with her, and who will officially start as its new director on 1 July. She is someone for whom, as she puts it, “every single act in life is a creative action”, but without a single agenda or view of the world. She is an incredible cloud of energy, intelligence and sociability.
Born in 1978, she is the youngest holder of her post in the AA’s 171-year history. She is also the first woman to hold it permanently (her immediate predecessor, Samantha Hardingham, was a temporary appointment). Not that she wants to dwell on youth or gender. “People discriminate by the questions they ask,” she says. “People see me as this crazy young figure. My question is: why? There are presidents of countries who are younger.” She also resists being measured by those stories of her past: “I do believe that one can make oneself anew, with every place, and at any given time.”
Her energy has the potential to revitalise the AA. Thanks to the influence of the association, the effects could be felt in the world of architecture for decades.