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Rising Star: Zoë Cave

Words:
Isabelle Priest

Resilient ‘force of nature’ who helped reinvent Open City in the face of the pandemic

Zoë Cave is a RIBAJ Rising Star 2020.
Zoë Cave is a RIBAJ Rising Star 2020.

Deputy editor and development manager, Open City
Undergraduate degree: 2014  Master’s: 2019

Zoë Cave started working at Open City just weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK. However, the way she helped adapt and transform the organisation’s activities in response to the crisis impressed all this year’s judges. Described as a ‘force of nature’ by Open City director Phineas Harper, Cave played a crucial part in finding inventive ways to keep a spirit of openness in London going when many other organisations were going into hibernation – furloughing staff, shutting down programmes, hoping to sit out the pandemic. Instead, Open House created an entirely new programme from scratch, a process Cave was integral to. This included a 30-part film series, a collection of model buildings to make at home and over 60 architecture-led free children’s activities. 

She also helped create the Open City Podcast about the past, present and future of London. The first episode featured an interview with one of the Cable Street Mural artists while touching on social history and the theme of memorials in public space. Cave also used her previous experience in sales to develop the Open House Friends scheme that has secured a steady stream of crucial donations these past six months. Harper says: ‘Nothing that Open City or Open House have achieved this year would have been possible without Zoë.’ Judge Alex Ely said: ‘She has shown resilience, maintaining in difficult circumstances a programme that would otherwise have disappeared.’

 

Models to make at home launched as part of Open City's alternative programme during the pandemic.
Models to make at home launched as part of Open City's alternative programme during the pandemic. Credit: Sophie Cunningham

What existing building or place would you most like to tackle?

Kate Macintosh’s (grade II listed) 269 Leigham Court Road is an exemplary social approach to sheltered housing. The council has updated features of the estate, including a covered walkway. Not only is it now incongruous, water collects beneath it, freezing in the winter and becoming hazardous. I would like to tackle the walkway because consideration of the more mundane bits of architecture would protect the bigger ambitions of the design.


Read about more 2020 Rising Stars here

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