When we started our special blOAAg series “Women in Architecture - Ontario” our goal was to recognize the contributions of women, past and present, to Ontario’s built environment and the architectural profession. During the month of October – Women’s History Month in Canada – we shared the stories of some of the first female architects in the province, looked at the most recent statistics on gender parity in the schools and the profession, and highlighted the personal stories of current practitioners. We’ve extended our series to continue sharing the stories of current architects that are making important contributions to our built environment.
Today’s post is a guest entry by Ottawa based architect Sonia Zouari. Sonia is a certified Passive House designer and Project Architect at CSV Architects
. Like many architects, Sonia is a true multitasker; she is an architect, a mother of three, a Green Globes Professional, LEED Green Associate, Certified Specification Practitioner, and Certified Construction Contract Administrator. She is also involved with numerous groups in the Ottawa region, including the Ottawa Chapter of Construction Specification Canada (where she serves as Chair) and Algonquin College. Earlier this year, Sonia was part of a team that won the Cerebral Palsy Sponge House competition
, designing a safe and therapeutic space for children with cerebral palsy. In this post, Sonia gives us a glimpse into her life, what drives her, and how she hopes to inspire others. From the architect
I would like to tell you about Sonia Zouari, that is, I would like to tell you about me and my life and the contribution I strive to make in shaping our built environment. I am writing for myself and for my daughters and possibly, I hope, for some young women architects at the beginning of their careers and 1st generation immigrants.
I am a senior Architect with over 15 years’ experience. I am passionate, community-oriented, enthusiastic, and focused on growing in the fields of energy performance, sustainable design, social engineering and accessibility. I am the mother of 3 lovely girls. The youngest who is almost 3 years lives with a rare genetic condition which includes serious brain-growth delay, a velo-pharyngial insufficiency and cortical blindness. She is gastric-tube fed and brings great joy to our family.
I am a working mother, daughter and wife. I juggle my family’s needs, my daughters’ nurture and care and activities, my workload and volunteer work. How I manage it all has been described as inspiring for other women who juggle and perhaps especially for mothers of children with special needs. I hope that, as well, I help to address the challenges still faced in achieving gender equality within our profession.
I have whole-heartedly tried to stretch my experience as an architect and woman - living in three different countries, encountering people from divergent cultures, excelling educationally and steadily broadening my professional experience.
I am proud of what I have done and look forward to where I can yet go and how my ideas and believes can provide a deep and lasting benefit for user groups and in the architectural landscape. I thrive on challenge and enjoy making work interesting and fun.
I am currently a Project Architect and Passive House Designer with CSV Architects in Ottawa. I serve as the Chair of the Ottawa Chapter of Construction Specification Canada, participate as a guest critic for the Algonquin College Green Architecture program, sit on the board of Algonquin College Green Architecture Advisory Committee and am a member of the Specification Writing National Educational Maintenance Task Team. I am also one of the two Ontario representatives in the North American Passive House Network. I have championed numerous award winning projects including heritage restoration, new construction, and interior fit-ups and am keen to promote excellence in architecture, to take a leadership role in sustainable design and pioneer Passive House design in the affordable housing sector in Canada.
In my spare time, I also volunteer my talents to help improve our built environment. I recently lead the A.B.L.E. team in the International Cerebral Palsy Sponge House competition and received 1st World prize. I also received the 2015 CSC Ottawa Chapter Award of Merit and the 2015 CSC Program Director’s Award this year.
I recently participated in the NAPHN15 Conference in Vancouver as a presenter, sharing my journey as Project Architect and lead Passive House designer for the Salus Clementine project which will be Canada’s largest Passive House project, the first light steel Passive House construction in North America and the first Passive House multi-residential affordable housing in Canada. On November 13, on behalf of my team, I received the Passive House pre-certification letter for the complex!
During Women’s History Month in Canada, I would like to be seen as a woman architect who has a positive influence in shaping our built environment and is an effective contributor in the broader construction community. It is my hope that I might also serve as a role model for professional women in architecture and in general.
Sonia Zouari receiving the Passive House pre-certificate for Salus Clementine project. Photo credit: Ottawa Construction News