Tamayouz Excellence Award


Tamayouz Excellence Award is proud to announce the winners of its Women in Architecture and Construction Award 2020. The award, which celebrates the achievements of female architects in the Near East and North Africa, is split into two categories: Rising Star and Woman of Outstanding Achievement. 

The winner of the Rising Star category is Iranian architect Yasaman Esmaili, principal at Studio Chahar and adjunct professor at University System of New Hampshire. The Rising Star category also recognises a highly commended candidate this year, Radwa Rostom, Egyptian civil engineer and founder and CEO of Hand Over. The winner of the Woman of Outstanding Achievement is Lebanese-French architect Lina Ghotmeh, founder of Lina Ghotmeh – Architecture. The bios and jury comments of the winners can be found further below. To read more about the other finalists of the 2020 cycle, please click here

The jury members for the Women in Architecture and Construction Award 2020 were:

  • Nadia Habash, director of Habash Consulting Engineers and adjunct lecturer at Birzeit University
  • Dr Jala Makhzoumi, professor of landscape architecture at the American University of Beirut, president of Lebanese Landscape Association and co-founder of Unit 44
  • Ebtissam Moustapha, co-founder of ENCODE and associate professor at The Knowledge Hub – Coventry University in New Capital Cairo
  • Anna Schabel, director of Wilton Studio Ltd and chair of Women in Architecture
  • Dr Deyala Tarawneh, architect, urbanist and head of the Architecture Department at the University of Jordan. 
  • Ahmed Al-Mallak, founding director of Tamayouz Excellence Award

More information can be found about each judge on Tamayouz’s jury panel page.

The judges met virtually to determine the finalists and winners of the Woman of Outstanding Achievement and Rising Star categories. The jury looked for realistic impacts on the wider community and related societies, and appreciated the effort of all participants who applied this year, despite any challenges brought forth by Covid-19. While the judges felt that all participants illustrated strength in their fields and a great ability to overcome context-specific hardships, they valued the holistic balance between academia and practice managed by the selected finalists. 

“Architects today are expanding and overlapping with other disciplines, and that is very healthy. We are happy to see that,” said the jury. “Young architects have achieved a lot in the past year, and they are achieving much more much faster than previous generations. We were also pleased to see a focus on sustainability across all of the submissions, with the finalists working to introduce laws and regulations, and working to open up a new dialogue regarding sustainable built environments.”

The founding director of Tamayouz Excellence Award and Coventry University academic, Ahmed Al-Mallak, said: “Congratulations to the finalists. We are delighted with the panel’s selection and proud to highlight these amazing women whose contributions are valuable to the built environment in our region and the wider community. Even though there will be a single award, the aim of the award is on creating visibility for the individuals and stimulating debate about the value of their contributions among professionals and decision-makers in urban planning and design, introducing role models to the younger generations.”

In 2019, Tamayouz’s Women in Architecture and Construction Award winners were revered Saudi architect Dana AlAmri for Rising Star and Turkish academic and author Dr Zeynep Celik for Woman of Outstanding Achievement. Egyptian architect Shahira Fahmy won highly commended for Woman of Outstanding Achievement. More about the winners from 2019 can be found here

The Prizes
Both winners and highly commended will receive the Tamayouz Excellence Medal, as well as a certificate. This medal will be given during the Tamayouz Award Ceremony, with flights and accommodation for the winners to attend the ceremony to be covered by Tamayouz Award. The 2020 cycle’s award ceremony will be held in 2021.  

The winner of the Woman of Outstanding Achievement will receive a ceramic statuette created by celebrated Iraqi artist Dia Azzawi. Born in Baghdad in 1939, Azzawi started his artistic career in 1964, after graduating from the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad and completing a degree in archaeology from Baghdad University in 1962. With exhibitions of his work held his art features in international private and public collections including the Museums of Modern Art in: Baghdad, Damascus and Tunis; Jeddah International Airport; British Museum, Tate Modern, and Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Institut du Monde Arabe, Bibliothèque Nationale de France and Colas Foundation, Paris; Gulbenkian Collection, Barcelona; and Library of Congress and the World Bank, Washington.

The Winners of the 2020 Women in Architecture and Construction Award for the Near East and North Africa

The Winners – Rising Star

Yasaman Esmaili – Winner 
Principal at Studio Chahar and Adjunct Professor at University System of New Hampshire

Yasaman Esmaili is an Iranian architect and educator based between Boston and Tehran. In 2017, after a successful international architectural journey which led to the completion of Goharkhatoon Girl’s School in Afghanistan, she founded Studio Chahar, a local yet global collaborative research-based studio, focused on design equity, community engagement and empowerment. Studio Chahar has initiated and completed several projects in Iran, Niger, Afghanistan and the US. Esmaili is also a founding member of united4design, an international design collective formed in 2013 to create dialogue about architecture and intelligent global practice, and a co-founder of Color My Home, a project focused on finding the meaning of lost homes through architectural thinking by working with recently displaced immigrant and refugee children. Simultaneously, Esmaili is a visiting professor at the University System of New Hampshire. Her work has been widely published and has been exhibited in New York, Munich, Venice, Washington DC and Seattle. 

Jury Comment: “It is an incredible achievement that Yasaman has managed to expand her work from a local scale to an international one, and that she succeeds in contributing to the built landscape of complex environments that are wholly different from one another. In addition, her collaboration with local studios in the countries she works in illustrates an inclusive approach to her work. We also appreciate her quality of aesthetic design in countries that it is not easy to create such a culture of high-quality architecture. In addition, she manages this while being an academic. We value her contributions to societies far and wide, and are confident in her ongoing positive impact.”

Radwa Rostom – Highly Commended 
Founder and CEO of Hand Over

Radwa Rostom founded her start-up Hand Over in 2014, a social enterprise that uses sustainable construction technology to design and build cost-effective and environmentally friendly buildings for vulnerable communities. Using a human-centred design approach and earth construction techniques, Rostom’s architectural output is thoroughly research-based. Her ultimate goal is to revolutionise the building industry and create a model that could be replicated to create suitable communities and sustainable cities. She has built up a team of experts, material specialists, designers, architects and site engineers to pursue this vision, while equally addressing underprivileged communities by providing cost-effective and humane solutions. Through her work, Rostom and her team advocate for more laws and incentives to encourage more people to understand the techniques and methodologies that they adapt, removing the misconceptions that some may have on earth building solutions or sustainable solutions in general. 

Jury Comment: “Radwa has presented an incredible portfolio of very strong and important work. She develops an architecture that is appropriate to its environment. We commend her ability to grow a strong entity of professionals that are committed to sustainable building techniques and social responsibility. Radwa is clearly influencing her country’s built environment, and as Hand Over continues to develop, this positive impact will only continue to grow stronger.”

The Winner – Woman of Outstanding Achievement

Lina Ghotmeh
Founder of Lina Ghotmeh – Architecture 

Lebanese-French architect Lina Ghotmeh founded her practice in 2006, and has, ever since, brought together architects, designers and researchers from different backgrounds and cultures. Viewing architecture as an act of resilience for more humane and ecologically built environments, Ghotmeh’s architecture dialogues strongly with nature. Spanning scales and geographies, from object design to museum architecture, with projects from France to Japan, the work of her practice draws on a historical and sensitive approach to architecture. Among her acclaimed projects is the internationally recognised Estonian National Museum, an ethnographic museum spanning 34,000m2, and Stone Garden tower in Beirut, a project completed in 2020 that reinvents local vernacular techniques. Her studio is also engaged in designing the highly ecological wooden tower Réalimenter Massena, which is dedicated to sustainable feeding in Paris. Ghotmeh is also an academic, and taught between 2007 and 2014 as an associate professor at the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture. She has also lectured at the Royal College of Arts, the Royal Arts Academy, the Bartlett school, and the Cité d’Architecture et du Patrimoine. 

Jury Comment: “Lina’s work could be classified as critical regionalism, which we very much appreciate and find value in. Her architecture is successful in its interactions with its environment – whether natural or built. Lina’s project in Beirut deals with local concerns while also being a great design and an experimentation in materials, while her Estonian Museum is very influential, with architects around the world drawing inspiration from its forms. Her commitment to environmental responsibility is evident across her projects, while her architecture greatly contributes to building healthier and more sustainable communities. Lina has also managed a holistic balance between academia and practice, which reflects a powerful, growing impact on the wider field.”

Read more about our other finalists from the 2020 cycle here

Tamayouz Excellence Award is sponsored by Coventry University, the Iraqi Business Council in Jordan, Kufa – Makiya Charity, Dewan Architects + Engineers, Ayad Al-Tuhafi Architects, Bonair Ltd, British Airways, Final Fix Interiors, JT+Partners, LWK + PARTNERS, and the United Nations Global Compact – Iraq Network.

Stay tuned

Receive All the Tamayouz Updates

Skip to content