Tendencies and Trajectories – Feminist Approaches in Architecture

This chapter provides an overview of shifts in the debate around feminism and architecture over the past forty years, from the 1970s, when (arguably) feminist debate in architecture first emerged, to the 1990s when discussions concerning the relationship between gender and space gained theoretical strength in the academy, to the contemporary moment. We will see how the key concerns raised by gender and feminist theorists are evident in a wide range of architectural texts and practices, from the analytic to the productive, the interpretative to the speculative, and from those which are clearly aligned with the feminist movement, to those which do not necessarily identify themselves as ‘political’ or motivated by issues concerning discrimination against women.

In the first section, Tendencies, I outline how architecture’s engagement with gender difference has changed in emphasis in the past 30 years, in response to the multifarious demands of ‘feminisms’ and the changing place of political work in the profession and the academy.  In the second section, Trajectories, I turn my attention to the present moment, and sketch out the terms and concepts, processes and modes of analytic enquiry and interpretation, critical and creative production, which currently feature across the work of a wide range of architectural writers and practitioners interested in feminism and gender.

Publication Details: ‘Tendencies and Trajectories: Feminist Approaches in Architecture’, Architectural Theory Handbook, Stephen Cairns, Greg Crysler, Hilde Heynen, Gwendolyn Wright (eds) (London: Sage, 2012).

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