Interview with Odile Decq | The Plan
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Interview with Odile Decq

ODBC Odile Decq - Benoit Cornette

Interview with Odile Decq
By Alessandra Orlandoni -

Alessandra Orlandoni - In 1996, visiting the Ed Kienholtz exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum, I was struck by the artist’s official acknowledgement of the contribution made to his work by his companion Nancy. That same year, you won the Venice Golden Lion with Benoît Cornette, and last year Zaha Hadid won the Pritzker Prize. I see these as significant precedents encouraging an equality of the sexes that is still some way off.
Odile Decq – I have always wondered why there are so many women in architect practices and so few who branch out on their own. I have thought a lot about that. First, women can choose. Men cannot: they don’t exist except through their professional achievements, and that is a strong driver. Women who choose their family stop being architects because they have the idea that they exist through their children. I didn’t make that choice. Also still today women’s education is not geared to teaching them to believe in themselves, to create themselves and dedicate time to acquiring confidence. Architecture, in a certain sense, is a war. It’s a tough profession where you always have to fight. You have to have great stamina. I kept going because I started working as a team with Benoît who helped, supported and pushed me to go my own way. He treated me as an equal, strengthened my own resolve to assert myself, follow my own inclination and be as I wanted to be. I also tell students and repeat at conferences that you need a good dose of recklessness to go down the road of architecture because if you are too aware of the difficulties the profession entails, you might never begin. You have to keep fighting but without really knowing what the fight is. Very often this recklessness is considered folly. That’s wrong; it’s pure recklessness – something that is socially acceptable for men, but not yet for women.

A.O. – Are there any theories or maestros...

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