Inspiring women to design and build

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Raising the profile and bringing inspiration to woman in architecture and engineering is the goal of Dr Sarah Prichard of Buro Happold.

Voted  highly commended in this year’s Construction Week Awards she spoke of how she feels she can bring a difference across the business.

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“I’m really just enjoying my job out here (in the GCC). I have loved engineering for all the 15 years I have been doing it,” she said.

“What do I think I bring to my role within the company? Enthusiasm is a major factor.”

Buro Happold has been involved with the development of Downtown Doha, which is being staged with great regard for the heritage of the area and incorporating as much of the traditional design and architecture as possible.

“We are making sure we respect what is already there in this major project which is a great boost to the city and will regenerate an are which has been neglected,” said Prichard.

“I feel that with my work I can make a difference in the world. This regeneration scheme in Doha for example. It is taking place in the 21st century but its result could remain in place for hundreds of years.”

Prichard admits there are challenges she faces in a world which is still largely male dominated, especially in the Middle East.

“I can go on site and I come across men who have never seen a woman on a building site before,” she said.

“They say to me ‘what are you doing here – shouldn’t you be cooking dinner for your husband?’ I tell them my husband is at home cooking dinner for me.

“But I want to send a message out to those people. I’m doing this and I’m a woman. So why cannot their wives and daughters do something similar?”

Prichard admits it was “the toss of a coin” which led her into engineering.

“I was going to study medieval history, but I was bored one day and went a college open day,” she said.

“There I discovered engineering. I did a degree, then a PhD and I could have gone into academia.  But I wanted to do something practical – I wanted to build buildings.

“I am very happy doing that – and also trying to inspire men I come across to think differently about what is possible for their wives and daughters.”

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