This Industrial Designer Is Making Space for More Women in Architecture

“Roses Have Thorns” garden, creative directed by Hanna Ali, rendered by Gasoline, produced by Lit Creative for Aluna.

Photo: Hanna Ali

Though leaving was a hard decision to make, Hanna felt like she still had more to learn. Overall, the experience gave her the confidence she needed to stay in the undergraduate program. Hanna found that she enjoyed the process of building virtual spaces and providing anyone with access to them. “I don’t need anybody to give me land for me to build a space,” she explains. “This idea of the metaverse and 3D world-building online is a new way to experience virtual architecture. I’m not the first woman architect to do anything, but I could be the first virtual architect because that’s a realm that’s been unexplored.”

It wasn’t until Hanna started interning at architectural firms that she really noticed a sense of exclusion in the workplace, which impacts how those practices design spaces too. As she states, “When a woman goes into a space, [people are] like, ‘What does she know? What man was she invited by into this space?’” During the pandemic, she became more intrigued by how people could engage with her work from anywhere in the world. The element of intangibility really stuck with Hanna, prompting her to think deeper about how she could shift the culture in a meaningful way. She started asking herself, “What is my actual point of view in the design world and how can I be stronger at it?”

It was during a visit to the Neutra VDL House with Hood Century founder Jerald Cooper that @Hoechitecture finally came to life on the feed: The first post from September 2020 is a photo of the actress Alexa Demie modeling in front of a magnificent building. (The image still remains as the avatar for the page.) The purpose of the account is to reach other women, while also aligning herself with a façade. “It wasn’t about aesthetics, but more about connection,” she says. “My design is driven by function and emotion. I want to show people how women’s intuition can aid in better design.”

Hanna defines “hoechitecture” as women creating intangible space—as in “when a woman’s presence is in a room.” As the 23-year-old further explains, “Even subconsciously, if they’re just posing in front of a building, they’re aligning themselves with that space. Their presence is as big as a building.” In addition to showcasing women taking up space through photos snapped in front of iconic buildings, Hanna also highlights a variety of women designers along with infographics about spatial awareness.

“I’m big on giving knowledge to people who wouldn’t necessarily have had the access and breaking it down in a way that’s really informative and engaging,” she says. “Sometimes architecture can be condescending, especially for women and people of color. I don’t think a lot of us realize how much we walk through our worlds and passed things that were design.”

Beyond infiltrating the Instagram algorithm, Hanna’s mission is to continue aligning with people with whom she wants to work—the fashion designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, for example. At the moment, Hoechitecture has a modest 2,633 followers, but it surely won’t take long for the masses to catch on. “We need to teach people how to frame their worlds and build their proper point of views,” Hanna concludes. “You can’t become a designer from being a mood boarder. I want us to go beyond the conversation of mood boarding and really have conversations about design process and being in the industry.”

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