Margarita Danou studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) receiving the AA diploma in Architecture in 1990. Upon completion of her studies she set up her own practice in Nicosia, mainly participating and being awarded prizes in many Architectural Competitions in Cyprus and Europe. Her work is widely published in local
and international books and magazines. In 2004 she was jointly awarded the Cyprus State Prize of exceptional Architectural Work for the Voroklini Coastal Promenade, with Sevina Floridou. Her projects of “Voroklini Coastal Promenade”, “The Athletic Park at the GCO”, “The Re-configuration of Verki into a pedestrian walkway and a water basin” and “The Cyta Footbridge” were nominated for the European Mies Van Der Rohe Prize. She is also a part-time teacher at the School of Architecture of the University of Nicosia.
-What do you love the most about your job?
Designing buildings is in itself a fulfilling creative experience. What is fascinating for me is the experience of working with a diverse number of stakeholders, from where an architect extracts needs, concern and vision, to create a beautiful yet tangible design that, when built, is loved by the users and the community at large. Our work has the ability to affect
the lives of so many people that long for great spaces to live in, work and play.
-What do you consider your greatest success? To date, what has been your greatest challenges?
It is a great success for me every time that I go through the process of designing a private house, supervising the construction works and delivering it built to the Client and receiving subsequently comments of content and acknowledgement. My greatest success though was the design and supervision of four public projects that were, after their implementation, nominated by the Cyprus Architects Association for the European Mies Van Der Rohe Prize. These projects were widely published in local and international magazines and books. Also, being awarded the Cyprus State Prize of exceptional Architectural Work for the Voroklini Coastal promenade was the greatest achievement in my career.
-What is the best career decision you’ve ever made?
The best career decision I ever made was to set up my own practice in Nicosia at a very early stage of my career. I had little construction knowledge and very limited office and building contractual experience and I learned about construction by spending most of my time on building sites and in material shops. This enabled me to acknowledge the importance of materiality and detailing in buildings. From a very early stage in my career I collaborated with fellow architects with whom I shared the same vision in architecture and together we participated and were awarded prizes in local and international competitions.
-Tell me how you prioritise your workload?
Practicing architecture involves many tasks that are not part of the creative procedure but still necessary in the process of designing and building a project. I allocate my time by visiting building sites in the morning, having meetings with clients in the afternoon and doing everything else in the evening. Definitely being in the building industry requires spending a lot of hours in the office, definitely much more than the typical forty hours per week. Until now I have not been able
to keep extra working hours to a minimum.
– What is your next goal?
My next goal is to continue participating in Architectural Competitions in Cyprus and in Europe and hope to be awarded the first prize so as to be assigned with the design and supervision of an architecturally significant public building. I would also very much like to put forward a project of documenting my ideas in architecture along with articles, photographs, publications and drawings of buildings and project that have been designed at my office.
-Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up on project, how you felt about that, and what
you did to turn it around?
At times, when there was a lot of work to be done and not enough time, while this overload of work affected my personal life, and at the same time the client interfered in a negative and uncreative way with the design of the project, I almost gave up. And then I visited a building site, I saw a small detail nicely realized and beautifully constructed by the builders and all of the sudden this gave me enormous energy to keep working and insist on everything that I
-Would you call yourself a spiritual person? How do you maintain a good work/life balance?
My spirituality is mostly expressed in my work as I am interested in buildings that invest in feelings as much as in looking. This becomes more evident in a conflict I am faced with while designing buildings for entrepreneurs, where I need to balance spatial and spiritual quality with commercial showpieces and impressive looking facades.
My spirituality is further developed by reading books and through my great interest in modern art and sculptures which I keep alive through my visits to museums and art galleries in Cyprus and abroad.
TARGET is a research project aimed at identifying, selecting and comparing the architectural careers of the top worldwide architects. Establishing a network for an exchange of experiences and knowledges to investigate the innovative architectural practices that are cleverly (re)shaping the world.The goal is to provide a source of inspiration for younger generations and to highlight cutting edge architecture.