Matilde Ucelay Maortúa 

Part 12 of a month-long celebration of Women’s History Month 

Matilde Ucelay Maortúa (1912-2008) was born into an artistic family in Madrid. Starting her education in 1931, she was the only woman in her architectural class at the School of Architecture of the University of Madrid and graduated as the only woman practicing in the country at the time. In addition to the normal obstacles that women faced, her career was stymied due to political charges made against her in the aftermath of the civil war and that resulted in her being barred from practice for a number of years. Still she worked, having associates sign the work. In spite of lingering political challenges, she completed over 100 projects of varying typesin her four decades of practice; many were for large homes for wealthy clients (above). Her pioneering efforts were recognized in 1998 by the Asociación La Mujer Construye; six years later she received broader recognition through the award of the National Architecture Prize, Spain’s highest honor for architects, bestowed either for their portfolio of work or innovative contribution to the profession.

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