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Architect Aya Irinkova makes London an even more beautiful place to live in

Photo: Facebook /Aya Irikova

“Your success will not be determined by your gender or your ethnicity, but only on the scope of your dreams and your hard work to achieve them.“ This is the message Zaha Hadid(1950-2016), one of the most influential women architects, wrote to herself for a BBC Arts project in which successful women were asked to send a postcard to their younger selves, offering a piece of wisdom, advice or simply reflection.

A message that perfectly represents the professional path of a Bulgarian woman in the world of architecture - Aya Irinkova.

More than ten years ago, Aya ended up in London visiting her sister, who was an architecture student at the time. After two weeks of living in the UK, she realized that this was her place. "I love London so much! There is a magic here that I can't explain in words, you have to feel it," the young woman says in an interview with BNR-Stara Zagora. And the horizon of her dream is opening up. Aya graduated from the The University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy (UACEG) in Sofia and in the spring of 2014 she was back in her dream city of London.

"My first job was not in architecture - I was a receptionist in a restaurant for a few months, and during that time I also took English lessons," says Aya about her professional path. "I showed up for my first job interview at an architecture company and the very next day I got a call offering me the position. It was a big surprise and motivation for me.

I started as an architectural assistant and at the same time applied to the local Chamber of Architects for a Full Designer’s License. They are very strict about the rules here and no matter that you have a degree in architecture, you have to get permission from the Chamber to even call yourself an architect and work as one," she explains the rules on the Island. 

Looking back from the distance of time and experience, the young Bulgarian is convinced that the education she received in Bulgaria fully meets her professional needs.

A key factor to finding a job so quickly was her familiarity with the 3D Design Software she used at university. "At that time, there was still a shortage of professionals who could use such software, and I already had experience with it," Aya reflects.

Three years later, she decided it was time for a new professional challenge and applied for a job at a large company employing over 250 architects from all over the world, based in the heart of London. She got the job and specialised in designing luxury homes in London's expensive Mayfair district.

Aya Irinkova explains that due to local legislation, the exterior and facade of the buildings in her projects are preserved in their authentic appearance. "Often we are talking about buildings that used to have a different function but have now been converted into residential premises," she explains. She points out the characteristic, in her words, heavy style of the buildings in London - both in terms of the building materials used, such as marble and various types of metal, and in the colours, which are mostly dark. There are many details, mouldings and ornaments that represent a modern and expensive architectural eclecticism.

 "The English are very traditional and it is extremely important for them to preserve the authentic character of the buildings, especially in their facades, which is essential for the overall appearance of the different boroughs. Many streets are protected by law and it is not allowed to make changes to the exterior of buildings. That's the big difference with Bulgaria - here it's very chaotic and the buildings are very heterogeneous in style."

And since London is Aya Irinkova's love, she admits that she admires the great Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster, counting them among that race of architects who make the city a better dwelling place for all. And, like Hadid, she believes in the idea of a broad-horizon future, which we discover through our own efforts.

Compiled by: Vesela Krasteva / based on an interview by Ina Nikolova, BNR-Stara Zagora/

English version: Elizabeth Radkova

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