Not long ago, Middle East Architect magazine rounded up 50 of the most influential architects in the region. From places like Jordan, Turkey, Palestine, the GCC, Iran and Lebanon, all the designers have positively contributed to the growing development of this corner of the world. And three remarkable women merited some of the top 20 slots in the Who’s Who by the monthly go-to publication for architects in the region. Here’s what you need to know about the go-getters.
Turkish Melkan Gursel is a partner at Tabanlioglu Architects, an architecture firm she joined in 1995. She has been co-leading the company with Murat Tabanlioglu since then. The Istanbul Technical University graduate, who also went to Polytechnic University of Metropolitan Catalonia for her Master of Architecture, nabbed the number three spot on the list.
Thanks to Gursel’s influence, the firm known for its high standard of architectural design has a rising percentage of female architects. The talent has lectured in the region and internationally and is a jury member on several programmes. As well as earning the RIBA Annie Spink Award for Excellence in Architectural Education, Gursel was on the Europe 40 under 40 list in 2008 and Fifty under Fifty: Innovators of the 21st Century list in 2015. In 2018, she jointly won Middle East Architect’s Architect of the Year award with her partner.
Suad Amiry, the Founder of Riwaq, a large-scale cultural heritage initiative, has been busy restoring and revitalising her homeland’s most significant historic centres. The Palestinian architect, who is also an award-winning author, launched Riwaq in 2005. The initiative’s Registry of Historic Buildings in Palestine found that saving 50 villages and towns would result in rescuing almost half of the cultural heritage in rural Palestine.
Coming in number five on the list, Amiry is also Vice President of Birzeit University’s Board of Trustees and a board member for the Palestine Investment Fund and the Palestine Housing Council. She is a jury member for The Palestine Award for Culture too.
Palestinian architect Nadia Habash, who landed the number 15 spot on the list, has contributed to numerous renovation projects across her motherland. The Director of Habash Consulting Engineers has worked with renowned architects like Peter Zumthor and Rasem Badran, and her projects include the restoration of Arraba Palaces and Bethlehem Old Market. And she is working on renovating the Vernacular Heritage Pilot Enhancement Project in As-Samou’.
Habash, who is also an adjunct lecturer at Birzeit University, was the first woman to head the regional branch of the Engineers Association of Jordan and Palestine, plus she was Ramallah’s first female city councilor. She was highly commended for a Tamayouz Excellence Award for Women in Architecture and Construction.