Published April 17, 2018
Feminism and architecture explores spaces, not just through aesthetically pleasing buildings, but also through spatial justices in relation to gender, age, and other services. Students in the School of Architecture and Planning had a chance to learn about this first hand from architect Lori Brown, who visited the Gender, Architecture and Urban Spaces seminar taught by Despina Stratigakos.
Co-founder of the women's architecture group Architexx and professor of architecture at Syracuse University, Brown discussed social justice and empowering women as vital to our current architecture education as represented by two of her recent projects. They included her work for the abortion clinics in Mississipi and Alabama, tasked with finding design solutions for the safety of those seeking its services, and her work with Wikipedia, where people have teamed up to edit and write more women architects into Wikipedia.
Her seminar encouraged difficult conversations about the role architects play in a social context, and the responsibilities an architect must share in favor of human dignity through their design. Architecture has the power of influence, and as architects, we must consider the role our designs play in everyday life. When discussing the controversial topic of abortion clinics, she finds effective ways of protection from a traumatic experience that a person seeking these services may encounter. Her talk focused on the design to better cater to these scenarios for protection and privacy, creating spatial justice for women.
The second part of Lori Brown’s visit discussed the WikiD project, an initiative to include women architects into Wikipedia. Women in architecture are often viewed as a marginalized group and are often excluded from history. WikiD is an international collaboration between groups in Melbourne, New York, and Berlin. However, it enables anyone, anywhere to write about women’s participation in architecture. Events such as the edit-a-thons have compiled extensive lists of women with references and resources. They have increased the visibility of women on the site.
Lori’s talk was empowering to the students and encouraging to view architecture not just through the design of buildings but also through social and political environments it creates. Architecture impacts everyday life, and architects should play a role in the betterment of such environments.