Previous Calls for Papers
Issue 18: "Women, Feminist Practices and Alternative Practitioners in Architecture"
Expected publication date: Jun 2022
“The absence of women from the profession of architecture remains, despite various theories, very difficult to explain and very slow to change. It demarcates a failure the profession has become adept at turning a blind eye to, despite the fact that it places architecture far behind the other professions with which architects frequently seek to align themselves. If we consider architecture as a cultural construct, both vessel and residue, we can but wonder what this symptomatic absence suggests about our culture and the orders that govern the production of its architecture. One thing is clear however: just as the absence of either sex from a large constituency must indicate some internal crisis in which gender plays a crucial role, the absence of women from the profession of architecture points to a profound gender-related crisis at the base of architecture”.
Francesca Hughes, The Architect: Reconstructing Her Practice (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1996): 1-2
Architecture is a traditionally masculine profession currently feminised. Since the 1970s, the number of women in architectural schools has progressively increased, reaching parity in the classrooms in much of Europe, America and Oceania by the end of the 20th century. However, the situation of social and cultural inequality that has historically existed between women and men has led many women architects and urban planners to work critically with regard to the traditional way of understanding the architectural profession promoting alternative practices from critical thinking often linked to feminist positions.
Since the publication of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex (1949), women architects, town planners, landscape architects, historians and theoreticians of architecture have been echoing feminist thinking and, since the second wave of the 1970s, dozens of texts on women’s history in architecture and feminist criticisms of the man-made built environment have been written. As many of them point out, the canonical historiography of modern architecture privileged the analysis of great works of architecture by favoured privileged Caucasian male architects, with a romanticised approach that regarded the figure of the architect as a creative genius. This romantic idea of the ‘genius’ encloses historical gender biases and, consequently, the contribution that women architects and urban planners have been making to the built environment for decades has been obscured and neglected in those dominant narratives.
In general, these works highlight the lack of neutrality of the canonical discourses on architecture and the city with modern roots, and draw attention to how gender differences have generated historical asymmetries that must be studied and analysed in reviews that recover women's previous work as well as in the ways women deal with their professional practice today. Furthermore, the positions taken often consider it necessary to de-construct the canonical view (Western, Eurocentric, patriarchal, idealistic, dualist) of understanding architecture in order to open up new debates and they also point out that analysing the contribution that women have historically made to the built environment involves building a more diverse and inclusive discipline for future generations of professionals.
This monographic issue of ZARCH adds to the present fourth feminist wave, where the role of the Internet and social networks has meant a globalisation of this line of thinking. On the one hand, we are living an on-going renewed interest in recovering the work done by significant women architects in the past, and, on the other hand, an interest in making visible the ways of working initiated or engaged in by women whose professional practices offer an alternative to traditional, dominant patriarchal practices of architecture.
In contrast to other types of studies on women and architecture in which biography predominates, this special issue seeks to delve into how the different situations in which women have carried out their work can be a device for opening up new fields of activity, encouraging creativity and offering a critical view of the profession. Thus, we want to publish articles that recover significant works of women architects, and, discourse on the particularities that their female gazes to impulse an alternative and critical professional practice. Therefore, we seek texts that reflect on:
• Analysis of works of architecture, urban planning, urban design and/or landscape designed and carried out by women as sole practitioners, reflecting on the distinctive contribution that her female gaze has brought to the work in question.
• Analysis of works of architecture, urban planning, urban design and/or landscape designed and carried out by diverse teams of female and male professionals that offer a critical perspective on the canonical discourse and reflections derived from feminist thinking.
• Analysis of historical and/or theoretical reflections of women - whether or not trained as architects - about the built environment that offers critical discussions from an intersectional perspective, i.e. that bring together gender issues with others including identity, race, age, social class or disability.
• Analysis of teaching methods, editorial, curatorial or artistic practices of any kind carried out by women trained as architects, landscape architects and/or town planners who have been critical with a canonical understanding of intervention in the built environment.
These questions invite reflection across various chronological and geographic areas. We seek contributions considering topics, practitioners and works from past fifty years, however analyses of previous critical practices will also be welcome. In addition, while proposals are expected to focus on cases, practices and critiques lead by women in the Europe and North America, proposals showing cases of female leadership from less analysed geographical areas will be welcome, that is, from regions far from the dominant focus of discussion in Western, Central European and Anglo-Saxon architecture. Finally, for this monographic issue, submission of research papers presented at the First Congress 'Women and Architecture: Towards an Equal Profession' are encouraged.
Issue 17: "Domestic Natures"
Publication date: December 2021
As the philosopher Romano Guardini said, man became modern when he went on a mental journey out of the world to see himself facing it. In this journey, man transformed the most primitive nature to which he had belonged into an empirical and rationalized nature: a non-natural nature that he himself could create and inhabit.
At the end of the 19th century, European explorers, geographers and naturalists went on a myriad of journeys to faraway lands looking for that primitive nature the Enlightenment had abandoned. A nature to which man had once belonged but from which he had grown apart in favor of a thriving reason.
That faraway nature became the longing for a journey to untamed lands. Its discovery was portrayed from the distance of a science that observed this nature and classified it as something far off and distant from our lives. Contemplating it turned the place into a scene bound to be inhabited by the time of a journey, of a visit. Friedrich Georg Weitsch evidences so in the fabric-roofed wooden hut that Humboldt and his companions built at the foot of Chimborazo. The house and its nature are inhabited as the dream of a place from a far-off past. A remoteness that fosters the emotion of achieving that original nature; a primitive and imagined place after all is said and done.
One century later, it was modern European architects who trusted that science and its technological advances as the domestic means to achieve a new nature, a hygienic nature. Le Corbusier proposed the house as a shelter and observation of a world that only architecture and its technological advances could make healthy. Mies, in turn, converted the house into a plane that could rise over a glade, as visible as it is distant from the time of its structure.
In light of the latest scientific advances, a new way of inhabiting and a new nature became intertwined. The interior of the modern house turned to be the homeland of a renewed intimacy and the exterior became that non-natural nature, a nature of health guarantees. Modern man, far away from any kind of naturalness, stopped inhabiting the externality of a life in nature.
That lack of habitation beyond the limits of the modern house has pushed contemporary man to a new domestic move, a journey to discover nature as the homeland of a longed-for externality. A journey to reach a new domestic nature, a nature turned into the habitation of a new public intimacy. The being of contemporary man is a public being, as José Luis Pardo says. And it is here that this new man—weary of that reason and its worshiped empiricism—revisit that primitive nature to which he belonged and now intend to turn into the room of his life.
The beginning of the 21st century announces, then, new domestic journeys for which architects such as Junya Ishigami have rescued, from the first journeys of European explorers, the drawings and tales of their faraway natures; these are natures that they have decided to turn into the dwelling of a new way of inhabiting. Now, the good house is that which grants habitation to a longed-for externality, that which turns nature into the homeland of its public being.
Identifying all these domestic natures—primitive, non natural, hygienic, imagined—that lend weight to the possibility of a new house and a new way of inhabiting seems necessary for this journey. This inhabiting intends to surpass that first science whose reason had fragmented the world into pieces of little truths in order to embrace that other science that tells of a world and a nature to which we belong and where we can achieve our own domestic Eden. A belonging that seems to be able to solve old material and energy offenses to nature itself.
We aim then to create a notebook of domestic journeys to inhabited natures and to all those natures that are being heralded already. A compendium of projects of big and small, individual and collective housing that tried and still try to turn nature into place and habitation. A notebook of journeys to new and old domestic natures.