Feminism and Architecture

My assumption when coming into this topic regarding Feminism and Architecture was that it should have been a well researched topic, considering the rise of women in the architectural field. However, I was shocked to find very little useful information on the subject matter.

I was hoping research and writing being done in analyzing the difference between male and female architects in terms of their design process, design result, layout of space, organization, etc. But in the end, nothing. This makes sense, however. Considering that I, too do not agree with the naive idea that just because women and men are biologically different, everything in what they do should and will be different. Ultimately, we are all human, and we share the same 5 senses – sight, touch, smell, hear, and taste which are the fundamentals in the way we perceive space.

The only piece of information that I came across while doing this two day research was a diagram by Rodney Needham. He had used a very simple line drawing of a typical gable roofed house and marked the stereotypes of most cultures regarding the placement, and direction of the male and female. Example would be:

Exterior, Outer, Upper attributed to the Male, and Interior, Inner, and Lower attributed to the Female.

It’s a shame that Rodney Needham has already done this drawing, for it is actually quite useful and very informative.

Another distinction that I thought was interesting was that Women in Architectural Practice or I guess even in their design studio either 1) Assume a neutral identity so to put only their credentials to be judged, rather than their sexuality, or 2) Stresses in many ways and different ways to be different to the dominate while male.

I thought there might be some kind of hope in the latter category in terms of finding provocative information and examples, but alas, nothing. The most visual form of representation of the latter category are people who makes curvaceous buildings – circular, flowing blobs to indicate the womb, or using materials that would suggest femininity. While these are definite ways to convey a feminine idea, they are not purely of the Feminist since really, men and women both make curvaceous buildings…

So what IS my position of Feminism? What does it mean to create a School of Architecture in an all-women’s campus? (I think the only other one has been The Cambridge School in Massachussets which was all started by accident and only lasted at most half a century – remarkable, but short lived) How can I critique my own work? How can I create a building that besides addressing the issues in Architectural Education (which I have yet to identify) as well as Feminism?


~ by atsilac on September 15, 2008.

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