The New York-based Devi Group, consisting of architects Suchi Reddy and Damyanti Radheshwar, has been shortlisted for The Women’s Building International Design Competition launched by the Novo Foundation and Goren Group. The competition will realise a groundbreaking transformation of a former women’s detention facility into a pioneering centre for the global Girls’ and Women’s rights movement, to be designed and built by women
The Novo foundation commissioned the project to create a supportive space for women from underrepresented communities and a collaborative space for activists from around the world. Inspired by this vision, Reddy and Radheshwar have conceived the building as a celebratory beacon in the skyline that rises to announce its foremost mission, collaboration. Symbolising the right of women to occupy their space in the world, the concept for the new building embraces the existing in ribbons of ultra-high performance concrete and heat sensitive glass that flow together and emphasise notions of collaboration, transformation and power. The project is driven primarily by the needs of the community it serves, and remains sensitive to its context in a corridor of iconic architecture. As such the Women’s Building has been designed as a visually strong fluent form that respects the history of the existing building and translates it into dynamic interior spaces that encourage community collaboration.
The new building envelops the existing with its skin creating an enclosed auditorium and event space on the upper floors. The heart of the project is the collaborative not-for-profit atrium style space expanding through three floors of the existing building. This monumental space is illuminated by a three- story installation of specular surfaces that will bring light from the roof into the depths of the building and will be built and installed by girls and women from diverse backgrounds. The complex will also provide spaces for a health centre, child-care services, galleries and a restaurant while the new tower overseeing the river and the city, will house a for-profit rental office space for small companies or businesses in art and culture supporting the Women’s Building.