LAUNCHING:

Virginia

Duran

01.

What is your professional title, purpose or passion?

My biggest passion is architecture in the broad sense of the word. We have more than 10,000 years of built history and it seems there’s still a lot to learn from that experience. My work involves the research of cities, buildings, materials and construction methods. As an architect, I find this field of work fascinating and challenging because it has such a significant impact on future generations.

03.

What did you want to do when you were a child and what changed?

I’ve always wanted to be an inventor. As a child I used to create all sorts of objects and services. For example, I created a pulley system at home so my mum didn’t have to carry things upstairs. I think she then carried everything down again when I didn’t see her not to hurt my feelings. I suppose not much has changed since then.

05.

What's the best career advice you've ever been given?

A friend once said to me that women are able to achieve anything. The problem is we are then discouraged when it’s clear there could be an impact on the traditional expectations. However, she pointed out that if we expect discourage as part of the obstacles to overcome, then the way becomes much clearer. Whenever I face criticism I try to remember this advice and I think these are very wise words. Expect to receive negative feedback and doubt, move forward anyways.

07.

What is the best thing about your current working environment?

Being able to work on meaningful tasks (whatever that means in every stage of the project) is one of the best feelings in the world. Also, for every city book I write I need to live in that city for a while and that is something I really enjoy; it’s a real treat getting to research and live in the world’s most amazing cities.

09.

Where do you see yourself in five years' time?

In five years time I want to be doing the same but better, bigger and happier. I’d love to expand our guide collection, have a growing team and make some powerful contributions to the world of architecture. Thinking about the future always puts a smile on my face. I am actually smiling as I type this.

11.

Tell us more about a charitable organisation or project you think is great.

I am a big fan of Kiva, a non-profit organisation that allows people to lend money to low income citizens over 80 countries. The impact Kiva is having in some underdeveloped regions – especially in places where women won’t be entitled to ask for a loan – is huge. If you don’t know this organisation yet, I highly encourage you to go online and make your first loan.

13.

What drives you?

My drive is to leave the world a bit better than I found it. I am a big believer that small gestures often lead to bigger contributions. I try to improve every little thing that is within my reach, from personal to professional, and hope to be able to make an impact in the field I am most passionate about: architecture & city planning in the future.

15.

Any final comments?

Besides my Architectour Guide books, I regularly publish free city guides on my blog Virginia-duran.com. If you are stuck at home dreaming of travelling, make sure to check them out, you might discover amazing architecture and be able to plan your next adventure.

02.

What does a normal day look like for you?

My day starts with a freshly grounded cup of coffee, which I delightfully make with an Italian Bialetti. My job is divided between the business development of our small publishing company – Architectour – and the writing of the next book. Currently I am creating Architectour New York, an architecture guide which has no photographs (only sketches) and is scheduled for publication in 2021.

04.

What have you achieved that you feel most proud of?

What I consider my greatest achievement is giving myself the possibility to start my own company. Not so much about doing it but the belief I could do it. There was a big moment when I said to myself “you deserve the opportunity to work on something you really believe in, full time”. The hardest moment of a project is deciding you’re going to do it. And in my opinion this is an achievement, regardless of how the idea goes after that. 

06.

Tell us about a a woman who inspires you

J. K. Rowling and Zaha Hadid are some amazing women that have inspired me (sorry I had to say two, is that cheating?). They are pioneers in their very different fields and examples of persistence, hard work and creativity. They didn’t give up when things got tough and their work will live long after they are gone. In the case of Zaha Hadid, who passed away in 2016, her buildings are our reminder of her genius.

08.

What was your biggest failure?

I can’t think of one big failure in particular but of many mistakes I made along my journey. I see failure as a powerful opportunity for change. So I take little mistakes very seriously because they are warning us against bigger failures. Some of these little mistakes always relate to bad prioritising and hopeful planning. Am I alone in this struggle?

10.

What do you like most about yourself?

Something I like about myself is how excited I get with very little things. During my research, I often found facts that clicked together and I was thrilled for the rest of the day. For instance, when I realised that Richard Rogers moved his architecture studio to the Leadenhall Building and his new office had views to another of his designs: The Lloyd’s Building, I was so excited of this little discovery that I couldn’t stop researching other architects and their studios. I also get really excited about friends achieving things, recipes that turned out well and small victories in whatever subject. Simple happiness.

12.

How can we make the world more inclusive and accepting?

I am a big fan of Kiva, a non-profit organisation that allows people to lend money to low income citizens over 80 countries. The impact Kiva is having in some underdeveloped regions – especially in places where women won’t be entitled to ask for a loan – is huge. If you don’t know this organisation yet, I highly encourage you to go online and make your first loan.

14.

What skills have been key to your journey so far?

  • Persistence has been my biggest ally. I see rejection as a sign of progress and, though it affects me, it doesn’t discourage me from trying again and again. Things always take a lot longer than we expect and persistence is our friend in any situation. On the other hand, I’d like to see humour as a skill, something that can be practised too. That would be my crucial second skill. Every situation has a funny aspect to it, the key is to see it and never take things too personally :)

DIRECTOR & AUTHOR OF ARCHITECTOUR GUIDES

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