Kathryn Findlay

26 January 1953 - 10 January 2014


The daughter of James, an Angus sheep farmer, and Elizabeth,Kathryn Findlay was born in Finavon, Scotland. Findlay graduated from the Architectural Association in London in 1979. She moved to Tokyo in 1979 to work for Arata Isozaki, a leader of the Metabolist movement, who had dreamed up fantastical plans for tree-like megastructures of clustered housing, hoisted aloft on great stalks above the city. There she met Ushida, whom she married in 1983 and with whom she founded the Ushida Findlay Partnership in 1986. She was appointed associate professor at the University of Tokyo, the first female academic in its department of architecture – and the first foreigner to teach there since the Meiji period. The practice relocated to the UK in 1999, and went bust in 2004 after running up debts working on three big projects in Qatar.

Findlay bounced back in 2008, with a poolhouse project in the Chilterns, which stands as testament to what could be achieved when clients persevered, featuring an undulating thatched rooftop that hovers above the pool in a startling vision of rustic hi-tech.

She was also a Visiting Professor at the Technical University of Vienna and UCLA, Honorary Professor at the University of Dundee.

The work of Ushida Findlay was variously described as neo-expressionist, organic modernist and surrealist. It was typified by the Soft and Hairy House, built in 1994 in Tsukuba, Japan. The roof garden was edible, surrounding a courtyard with a blue-blob bathroom protruding into the space.

Findlay and Ushida separated in 1999. She is survived by her two children, Miya and Hugo. Findlay died in January 2014 after suffering from a brain tumour. The news of her death coincidently broke at the same time as Findlay was announced as winner of the 2014 Jane Drew Prize for her "outstanding contribution to the status of women in architecture".


To make your own nomination download the nomination form here