Zola, Zoka

Zoka Zola

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Rijeka, Croatia

Years of practice

1990– (estimated)


  • David Chipperfield Architects
  • ir Michael Hopkins + Partners, OMA
  • Prof. Vittorio De Feo
  • Prof. Francesco Cellini
  • Prof. Paolo Portoghesi
  • Prof. Wilhelm Holzbauer


Croatia, European Union, Illinois, United Kingdom


Zoka Zola was born in Rijeka, Croatia. She studied architecture at Zagreb University in Croatia and at the Architectural Association in London. Zoka holds a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Zagreb and a Masters degree of the Division of Humanities at the University of Chicago. In 1990, she received the RIBA Student Award. She worked for a number of the well known studios: David Chipperfield Architects, Sir Michael Hopkins + Partners, OMA in London; Prof. Vittorio De Feo, Prof. Francesco Cellini, Prof. Paolo Portoghesi in Rome; and Prof Wilhelm Holzbauer in Vienna. Qualified as an architect in the UK in 1990, Zoka established her own studio in London. In 1995, she received the Young Architect of the Year Award, an annual award to one individual, in the UK. During her years in London, she also taught architecture as a Senior Lecturer at the Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, and she was a Unit Master at the Architectural Association in London. In 1997, Zoka moved to Chicago where she first worked at De Stefano and Partners and started teaching at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Later, Zoka established her own studio in Chicago and designed her own house, completed in July 2002, which won the Home of the Year Award as the best home in North America. Over the years she continues to be a guest lecturer at many universities nationally and internationally.

Major Buildings and Projects

  • Breeze Engine – Hostel and Company Retreat, South China
  • Scalene House
  • Prototypical Kindergarten, Croatia
  • Rogers Park Urban Design, Chicago
  • Interpolation – Affordable Housing in Rijeka, Croatia
  • Solar Tower, USA
  • Openecosource.org
  • Rafflesia Zero Energy Home, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Passiflora Zero Energy House, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Residential + Commercial Development, Split, Croatia
  • Green Stock Plans for 21st Century Chicago, Chicago
  • Plan for 21st Century Chicago
  • Zero Energy Home, Chicago
  • Mixed-use Development, Chicago
  • Pfanner House, Chicago
  • 20th Century Silver Exhibition, London, UK
  • Café Brera, London, UK
  • New City Center for Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Open-air Theater, Zagreb, Croatia


  • RIBA Student award 1990
  • Young Architect of the Year Award 1995
  • Home of the Year Award for best home in North America 2003

Press (selected)

  • Domus China, (China), May 2011, Brendan McGetrick’s interview with Zoka Zola
  • Growing Urban Habitats, (USA), 2009
  • Architecture Now! Green Architecture, June 2009
  • American Masterworks Houses of the Twentieth & Twenty-first Centuries, Kenneth Frampton, 2008
  • Design + Architecture, (Singapore), February 2008
  • Live/Work, Deborah K. Dietsch, 2008
  • Chicago Tribune Magazine, (USA), October 19, 2008
  • The New 100 Houses x 100 Architects, Robyn Beaver, 2007
  • International Houses Atlas, Casey C.M. Mathewson, 2007
  • World Changing, a users guide for the 21st century, Abrams, New York, with a foreword by Al Gore, November 2006
  • Chicago Tribune, (USA national paper), December 2003 holiday issue Sunday paper

Institutional Affiliations

  • Architect licensed in Illinois USA, UK and European Union, and Croatia
  • NCARB Certified
  • Member of American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) 2007-2008
  • Member of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
  • RIBA-USA Mid-West Chapter, chairwoman 1999-2009
  • LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environment Design) Accredited Professional
  • Chicago Energy Conservation Certified Professional