Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
This paper argues that the rise of architecture as a unique discipline and the conquest of the American continent are not just chronological coincidences but interdependent variables of the same process of modernization. Traditional scholarship in architecture has not entertained those parallel developments at all. The field of architectural history and theory still treats the spatial occupation of the Americas as a consequence of the Renaissance and European modernization, despite a few decades of scholarly literature in related disciplines questioning such assumptions. (Fanon 1961; Said 1978; Dussel 1980; Bhabha 1987; Escobar 1994). Such scholarship demonstrates that the encounter of 1492 and the territorial occupation that followed played a central role in the development of Western culture in general, allowing the extrapolation of the same logic to the architectural discipline in particular.
This article wants to offer a brief overview of my experience as an architectural photographer and of “The Mies Project” in particular, on which I have been working on for the past few years. My approach to photography, based on the latest digital technology but also on the Leica M-System, is briefly outlined. In the past, the question was how to obtain information. Nowadays, the proper structuring of information is what really matters. Architectural Portraits, a small selection of which from “The Mies Project” are here presented, are “intimate gazes,” prioritizing the relationship of the detail of a building with its surrounding, the interaction between construction details, lighting and weather conditions. In this sense, Mies’ works not only have sparked my interest in architectural photography, but have been also the perfect poetic partner for my research.
Aldo Rossi and the Spirit of Architecture
By Diane Y. F. Ghirardo
London: Yale University Press
254 mm x 203 mm
135 color + 5 b/w illustrations
US$65 / £50.00 GBP (hardback)
Irrigation remains the primary means of sustaining urbanization and stabilizing agricultural productivity in arid America. In the contest for the West, water is both wealth and power. Today’s struggle to overturn water scarcity is traceable through a long history of legislation overseeing land regulation, property speculation, societal development, and cultural attitudes, real and perceived, inscribed within the America’s aridlands. In reality, there is no magic wand - no miraculous technology - that alone will fulfill the needs of all who have been promised abundance in the aridlands. This paper proposes that revisiting John Wesley Powell’s 1893 proposal for aridland development in the context of today’s ecological conditions catalyzes an alternative response to today’s predictions of changing climates, and can provide the basis of an approach to the aridlands which builds from the enmeshed relationship between social and environmental systems.
Much historiographical research has been produced on the post-war CIAMs, demonstrating the importance of the CIAM Grid, proposed as a “thinking tool” for representing the town planning projects at the CIAM 7 in Bergamo (1949). This essay proposes a new critical and epistemological examination of the CIAM Grid based on new archival documents and on a rereading of the exact words used by Le Corbusier, who proposed to consider the Grid as an “interlocutor.” Seventy years later, we propose to go beyond the failure of CIAM 7 and to elaborate a “new Grid,” with the name of “Second Life Grid,” as a critical tool for discussing exclusively projects related to the new paradigm of recycling and reusing buildings and urban spaces. Beginning with the question of the critical legacy of the CIAM Grid, our intention was to think of a Grid conceived no longer as an instrument of dogmatic and normative thought, but as an instrument of dialogical criticism which has been tested through an open call for projects and an international conference held in Bergamo in October, 2019.
Space is relational. How many relationships can occupy a space? How do they work? These are both interesting questions that we would like to answer. We know that we interact with space and that its configuration affects us: we can be aggregative while experiencing it, rather than competitive. Space has considerable power in influencing our brain. Essentially, our actions are somehow manipulated by what we see and what we touch. How does our space (peripersonal space) interfere with another’s? The idea of interaction within space (or social space) and space of selfhood thus becomes an essential subject for architecture and cannot be simply parameterized in a geometric manner. Physical space must, therefore, allow solitary or cooperative movement without alienating the individual. We base our judgments on movement, culture, personal psychical characteristics, memory, and personal experience. Taking these elements as our base, we gave a new perspective for designers to draw from the semantic, which can be rhetorical and disconnected by the function.
While the practice of architecture has traditionally been a male-dominated field in India, gender discourse in architecture has been slowly shifting the gender balance towards an increased participation of women in architectural practice and academics, as both leaders and team members. This paper explores the nuances of feminist spatial practices locating itself in the state of Kerala, India, that has historically unique gender politics. The paper draws on an ethnographically informed study of twelve women architects, using “Master Bedrooms” as a discursive tool to capture their engagement in professional practice. The study revealed that the critical feminist spatial practice is not watertight nor a conscious way of practice. It does not even require conformity to any one idea of feminism. These women practitioners deploy multiple modes of engaging with and challenging the dominant norms of professional practice. These range from conscious acts of individual subversion to organizational structuring, from overt challenges to quiet resistance. This paper offers to problematise contemporary discourse on critical feminist spatial practices in the context of India and thereby, contribute to critical spatial pedagogies.
Characterized by continuity, inventiveness, and a fervent exploration of the relationship between architecture and the environment at large, the work of Lisbeth Sachs was included in the 1979 issue of the Aktuelles Bauen magazine on women and architecture. This contribution proposes an in-depth review of Sachs’ underexplored work, suggesting a better understanding of her role as a practicing woman architect at a time when this task was not a matter of course. It places an emphasis on the dialogue Sachs established with her contemporaries, on the dense network of experiences that shaped her design approach, and on the ways it intersected with the late twentieth-century discourse on the relationship between architecture, ecology, and nature. It is not coincidental that the work of Frei Otto would have a long-lasting influence on Sachs’ design experimentation, informing her theoretical and applied design projects. Her design exploration, too, was influenced by the technological advances, the societal changes and the shifts in the cultural agency of architecture, proposing each time a solution that addressed, rather than excluded, its surrounding context, cultural, physical, or environmental.
In Portugal, the participation of female architects in the development of the profession – in the broad sense of the word: project, research, education, criticism, and policy – is far from having been identified, problematized, and disseminated. The research project W@ARCH.PT (Women Architects in Portugal: Building Visibility, 1942-1986) strives to give visibility to female architects – revealing “who?”, “when?”, and “how?” – and contribute to expanding the history of Portuguese architecture, as well as developing feminist studies and ideas within the discipline. The strategies chosen to carry out this ongoing research intersect with feminist theories and epistemologies, outside and inside architecture. The issues raised require a critical understanding of the processes that sustain the silencing of female architects’ voices, imposing limitations on how we understand the profession in its many facets. The feminist historical reflection that we propose is based on the idea that combining the production of knowledge and professional practices is crucial to change gender biases and women’s oppression in both fields.
Candice Stevens has pointed out that the lack of progress on gender equality may be at the heart of the failure to advance on sustainable development. Several researchers such as Sandra Manley and Ann de Graft‐Johnson, and Rosa Sheng and Annelise Pitts have studied why women leave architecture, but no study focused on the women’s leadership in architecture education yet. This qualitative study aimed to discover insight into the leadership development journey of women focusing on sustainable architecture education. The sample was selected among 1,705 faculties of forty-one collegiate architecture programs. After email invitations, five successful women executives in sustainable architecture areas participated in the interviews. After coding analysis, three conclusions illuminated. Firstly, strong mothers influence daughters to become leaders. Secondly, the inner motivation of “working super hard” is the foundational factor that all the women leader participants claimed to sustain their leadership advancement. Thirdly, participants unveiled that there was an on-going-pattern while finishing the tasks and establishing reputations, especially in early career development. The awareness of the pattern helped to reduce the panic of the new tasks.
Women have always been strongly involved in creating environment and living spaces, even without initially being designers as the university became accessible to them very late. However, they were always strong involved in creating a healthy environment, and contributing to welfare state, where health and social equipment was a gender response to a modern life. Anyway, the history of architecture remains dominated by Masters and the female presence is almost invisible, even though women’s studies have made a large contribution to investigate lives, stories, and professional works. The paper highlights the contribution of women as builders of social and physical spaces from late nineteenth and focuses on Italian movements of second and third generation feminists. Nowadays feminists are pointing out invisibility of women as a structural violence, are claiming commons and creating new uses for urban space.
Framed within the question of how gender influences the production of urban space, this study reveals how Jiyūgaoka, a high-end suburban area in Tokyo, has developed by targeting a particular gender role: women as caretakers and consumers. Car-safe and bike-friendly, Jiyūgaoka pedestrian areas have more greenery, pavement, and urban furniture in comparison with the average Tokyo street. Jiyūgaoka spatial practices encourage the meeting of people in the public realm, creating relationships between behaviors and their supporting physical environment. By aiming at women, other non-normative bodies were rendered into the city, enhancing public life and creating an accessible milieu. Jiyūgaoka genderfication process, by which the overlaying of commercial and gender mechanisms has impacted urban phenomena, is shown through a chronological investigation of gender-charged contents and its mapping in the urban fabric. This study demonstrates how urban transformation in Jiyūgaoka has encompassed changes in the lives of women in Japanese society. Representative examples from each period illustrate the physical translation of this development, from a home cooking school to a promenade with hundreds of benches.
Conventions of authorship and attribution historically excluded or erased women’s contributions to the built environment. As frequent co-authors and collaborators, women’s stories often do not fit into conventional historical narratives about how architecture is created. In response, this essay proposes a technology called “attribution frameworks”: a digital method for creating a transparent record of architectural labor. The authors argue that the integration of digital tools into architectural design offers a new space for more equally attributing, documenting, and counting labor and contributions to the discipline. This space allows for a more rich and inclusive narrative of contributions to architectural production for the future.
Until recently, discussions of the relation of sexual orientation with the built environment have mostly focused on gay men at the expense of lesbian women and trans people. This study thus presents a review of discourses in architecture and design as well as interviews with lesbian designers to understand how and why queer women have been almost invisible. The privileged position of men allows expression of their sexual orientation with less risk than women who are already facing discrimination. Furthermore, structural inequities have forced women architects to focus on issues of equality and inclusion for all women, with the side effect of often silencing how other forces such as sexual orientation or race combine to create more complex power relations. Invisibility is a problem, however, as it limits the ability to respond adequately to diverse social needs and to sustain more inclusive design disciplines. Bringing to the foreground the intersection of identities with experience of space can encourage younger generations of architects by offering role models and diversifying the range of life experiences informing the design of spaces.
and Its Discontents
By Hilde Heynen
Studies in Modern Architecture, 2019
234 mm x 156 mm
US$ 100.00 (hardback),
US$ 31.46 (paperback)
Theoretikerinnen des Städtebaus.
Texte und Projekte für die Stadt,
By Katia Frey and Eliana Perotti (eds.)
Berlin: Reimer, 2015
240 mm x 170 mm
42 b/w illustrations
€ 49 (paperback)
Frauen blicken auf die Stadt.
Architektinnen, Planerinnen, Reformerinnen. Theoretikerinnen des Städtebaus II,
By Katia Frey and Eliana Perotti (eds.)
Berlin: Reimer, 2019
240 mm x 170 mm
45 b/w illustrations
€ 49 (paperback)
Women [Re]Build: Stories, Polemics, Futures
By Franca Trubiano, Ramona Adlakha, and Ramune Bartuskaite (eds.)
Novato CA, USA: Applied Research and Design / Oro Editions, 2019, 2018
241 mm x 165 mm
US$ 29.95 (paperback)
A range of often overlooked ways of engaging with architecture and design have historically offered women from around the world with the means of making a living and of advancing the careers of other women, as well as of encouraging the acceptance of artistic experimentation. These include journalism, retailing, and philanthropy. For instance, Ethel Power edited the influential American shelter magazine House Beautiful from 1923-34. Estrid Ericson founded and ran the Stockholm design shop Svensk Tenn for over half a century; she also designed many of its characteristic products. Gira Sarabhai was instrumental in the establishment of the Calico Museum and then the National Academy of Design, both located in her native Ahmedabad, India, and contributed to the design of the building in which the latter is housed. Writing such achievements back into the history of architecture and design helps provide the foundation for a more inclusive approach to those professions today.
Findings from the 2018 Equity in Architecture Survey demonstrate that architectural professionals tend to describe their work in terms of personal agency rather than communality. This pattern in architectural practitioners’ work orientations is associated with two major obstacles to achieving equity within the architectural profession. First, the practitioners who are most satisfied with their work are typically more communally oriented, suggesting that architecture’s overemphasis on the professional self may limit potential pathways to positive experiences of one’s work. Secondly, women in the profession face significant bias as they embody the stereotypically agentic professional archetypes of the Creative or the Rainmaker, but are also undervalued when they adopt communally-oriented, but lower status, professional personas. We conclude by proposing two parallel strategies intended to improve professional outcomes by addressing the adverse effects of agency-orientation in architectural practice.
More than three million Americans experience homelessness annually. Emergency shelter capacity is limited while local governments are unable to provide even temporary housing. Informal housing involving interim self-help solutions are now popular adaptive actions for obtaining shelter, despite nonconformance with city codes. Unfortunately, most informal solutions have resulted in objectionable tent cities and squatter campgrounds where the local response has simply been to move the problem around. Our homeless transition village plan prototypes a shelter-first solution using a kit-of-parts
that can be replicated in other communities. Village design reconciles key gaps between informal building practices and formal sector regulations, creating a permittable solution under most city codes. While informality is traditionally associated with the “topography” of unplanned hyper-growth in developing nation economies — and not with design disciplines or advanced economies— our project highlights informality as a mode for effecting new urban solutions within obdurate regulatory environments. Indeed, the informal has emerged as an important design epistemology in advanced market economies given the polarization of their economies and the need for distributive justice.
This paper, based on the author’s new book The Urban Fix: Resilient Cities in the War against Climate Change, Heat Islands and Overpopulation (2019), culminates over three decades of researching, teaching, and writing on American sprawl. One of the country’s biggest and most familiar problems, it could be described as a conspiracy of good intentions: short-sighted desires to live in nature; traffic safety engineers’ preference for wide thoroughfares; fire marshals’ desire to turn around hook-and-ladder trucks at the end of every cul-de-sac, etc. Over half of American homes are single-family dwellings – 69 million out of a total of 132 million. The fatal flaw is that these positive intentions quickly led to very high energy/carbon/ecological footprints per suburbanite – a challenge that is difficult because of extensive, indelible infrastructure. Densifying arterial strips, inserting transit, redeveloping a walkable, bikeable, mixed-use, and human-scaled urbanity is as urgent as it is essential in the nation’s effort to combat climate change.
Originally, the design for the Canada Pavilion (1958) was developed by the Milan-based firm BBPR from the willingness to achieve an anti-monumental set up, referring to the teepee and translating and expressing its spirit in a modern architectural system. Our goal for the restoration (2014-18) was therefore to preserve the building with a special attention to various themes concerning restoration and, in fact, different solutions were studied for the many details to be able to respond to all institutional representatives: the Italian Superintendence for Historic Preservation, the National Gallery of Canada, the Venice Biennale and the Municipality of Venice. The relationship between nature and architecture was one of the major issues to consider.