This post is by Sarah Beth, who is a guest blogger here at The F-Word this month.
Sarah Beth’s passions are both feminism and architecture. She currently studies Architecture at Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, Stockholm, the place where she first came into contact with FATALE (Feminist Architecture Theory – Analysis, Laboratory, Education) and began a research paper on the combination of gender studies and architecture. It is precisely this topic which she wishes to discuss as a guest blogger for The F-Word.
Are you an expert on architecture?
The answer is: yes.
Architecture surrounds every one of us, every day. From the favelas of Brazil to the iconic skyline of New York, people interact with and experience architecture. However, perhaps it is an element we do not consider on a day to day basis.
The presence of architecture in our lives is integrated and impressionable. It has the ability to subconsciously affect our mood and the way we go about our daily lives; from the intensity of lighting to the height of a window sill. Architects strive to design spaces which ease day to day activities and add pleasure to the lives of inhabitants.
Every individual inhabitant of this planet is unique with different personalities, requirements and desires. Architecture’s diversity constantly attempts to gratify human diversity, historically with assumed averages and ‘white, western, middle aged, male’ perspectives. However, it has been stated that the role of architecture, and the architect, in our society is changing.
“Traditional architectural education and practice must undergo creative change today.”1
Leslie Kanes Weisman is feminist architect, educator and community activist who is highly involved in the dialogue between architecture and feminism. Yet she is still one of few. It is perhaps not unsurprising that the concept of feminist architecture is not yet as widespread as some might hope.
For me, feminism is inclusivity. The right to live in a world where you can be who you are and one which actively helps each individual to live the way they choose. It is my belief that architecture can aid this process by empathetically designing the surroundings in which we live.
Last year I moved to Stockholm to study at Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan. It was here that I first came into contact with FATALE (Feminist Architecture Theory Analysis Laboratory and Education), a group of people who focus on the research and education of feminist architectural theory. Through participation in their evening class, ‘Architecture and Gender’, I was able to combine two of my passions and write my dissertation on the topic.
Over the next few blog posts I will explore this thematic link of architecture and feminism and what this means both within the profession and to architecture’s inhabitants as we move towards a more invigorated, inclusive built environment.
1 Weisman, Leslie Kanes, ‘Diversity by Design: Feminist Reflections on the future of Architectural Education and Practice’, Agrest, Diana, Patricia Conway & Leslie Kanes Weisman (eds), The Sex of Architecture (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996) p 284
Image attribution and description: The image at the head of this post is called IonicCapitalPriene. It is based on a monochrome line drawing of an Ionic capital from the Temple of Minerva Polias at Priene. It is a Public Domain Mark 1.0 image from the Wikimedia Commons.