Feminism and modern architecture are the two sides of the same coin. The idea of feminism has compelled people to rediscover the space which eventually impacted modern architecture. It was a traditional practice to define the space for men at work and women at home. There was typically a similar set of space in the domestic environment like the living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, garage, and parking area. 

The influence of feminist theory was observed in the 19th Century. Gradually, this development of spatial separation flourished when women switched roles during the 20th Century. This evolution bought the paradigm of private cooking and cleaning, child care, and public and private spaces. 

On referring to the paper of Dolores Hayden, “What Would a Non-Sexist City be Like? Speculations on Housing, Urban Design, and Human Work” [01], published in the 1980s; we get to know that the women are engaged in different activities that require different spaces to support them. There was a demand for an efficient environment arranging housing, employment, and child day-care simultaneously for the women with a professional career. Scandinavian countries were the first to introduce service houses that provided dwellings for the employed women and their families along with child care and cooked food at the beginning of the 20th Century. 

During the 1970s, the single-parent home and the day-care center in the neighbourhoods started flourishing in Germany. Feminism and modern architecture are an integral part of the newfangled society. The architects and urban designers should realize the importance of employed women and their families while planning and designing. This would create a remarkable outlook in the housings, neighbourhoods, and cities. This article will be discussing and demonstrating a few examples of the theory of feminist that has influenced architecture, urban planning, and design in the past, present, and future.

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Women Empowerment in the 20th Century ©archdaily.com

Redesign of Domestic Spaces in the 19th Century

The ideology of feminism inspiring the modern designs had already begun in the 19th Century before the employment among women flourished in the 20th Century. On referring to the book of Dolores Hayden, “The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and cities”, published in 1982; we get to know that the domestic houses were radically planned and designed during the 19th Century. This constrained activities for a woman who lived an isolated life. Social inequality led to the involvement of innovative plans and visionary strategies for persistent women. 

There was the requirement of a socialized housework and childcare center to revolutionize the dwellings and create community services. There were also basic questions raised on the relationship of men, women, and children in industrial society. Feminism and modern architecture played a crucial role in the evolution of domestic spaces. Such as there was the creation of houses without kitchens, public kitchens, community dining halls, and day-care centres. This led to the environment and economic transformation in American society.  

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Exhibition Showing the Works of Feminist Architecture in the 19th Century ©archiparlour.com

The Evolution of the Suburb’s Structure in the 20th Century

There was a tremendous rise in women accessing education and joining the workforce. This diversification in American society led to the evolution of the structure of the suburban areas. On referring to the essay of Susana Torre, “Expanding the Urban Design Agenda”, published in 1998; we get to know that there were social movements against the patriarchal society. There were limited opportunities for women in the suburban area compared with the opportunities in the cities. 

Therefore, scholars, architects, and community activists encouraged the idea of the development of American suburbs by providing facilities like better access to public transportation and amenities in the neighbourhood. There were changes in the zoning for the betterment of the employed women such as sharing of homes by single parents of different families, paid employment to work from home, and provision of required stores in the community. Feminism and modern architecture can be distinctly noticed in the transformation of the suburban structure in the 1970s. 

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Evolution of Suburb Structure in the 20th Century ©oxfordre.com

The Feminist Design Paradigm in the 21st Century

Al Wakrah Stadium designed by Zaha Hadid Architects is considered an example of architecture design influenced by the feminist theory. It is a stereotypical observation for associating this design with feminist architecture due to the curvilinear shaped roof. It is also a controversial statement for comparing the shape of the stadium’s roof with the female private body part. This project of Zaha Hadid depicts the idea of women empowerment because of the experiment in the idea of promoting cultural pride and ethnicity of the neglected social group. 

The design idea of the stadium has been inspired by the mural works of Judith Baca. She is a feminist artist who is renowned for her mural works and construction fence, portraying the feminism ideology of unity and equality. This ideology is reflected in the design of Al Wakrah Stadium. Feminism and modern architecture are vital assets in the design concept of Zaha Hadid. 

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Al Wakrah Stadium ©archdaily.com

The Futuristic Feminist Theory

The feminist theory in architecture has focused on the issue of political, social and environmental. In the future, it has focused on materialism by implementing the methodology of mapping and doing and redoing cultural heritage. On referring to the book of Art Architecture Design Research (AADR), “Feminist Futures of Spatial Practice- Materialisms, Activisms, Dialogues, Pedagogies and Projections”, published in 2017; we get to know that there are limitations in the use of materials and material space and their relation with disclosure. 

Mapping is a methodology to gather information about a particular neighbourhood, town, or city. This can conclude neutrality and objectivity and contribute empowerment for the marginalised group. Similarly, conducting a series of workshops with experienced artisans from different backgrounds could provide us with some knowledge of strict boundaries and taxonomies concerning their cultural heritage. This reveals the new feminist materialism.  

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An Extract of the Book Showing the Mapping Concept ©issuu.com

The world has witnessed eminent female architects like Eileen Gray who designed E-1027. This modernist villa including the interiors and furniture was highly influenced by the feminist theory. Le Corbusier was not a feminist hero but most of the efficient female architects and designers have worked with him, Charlotte Perriand was one of them. She is a perfect example of women’s empowerment in the 20th Century. 

Society has been constantly changing with the shifting of roles among men and women. This has been a valid reason for the evolution of feminism and modern architecture over time. On referring to the essay of Karen A. Franck, “A Feminist Approach to Architecture” published in 1989; this article would conclude that designing a house, neighbourhood or city is about designing a matrix space that achieves the objectives, creates multifunctional spaces, and transforms opportunities. 

References

01) Online Source: How Did the Evolution of Women’s Role in Society Change the Built Environment? | ArchDaily

02) Online Source: What Would a Non-Sexist City Be Like? Speculations on Housing, Urban Design, and Human Work | Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society: Vol 5, No S3 (uchicago.edu)

03) Online Source: The Grand Domestic Revolution | The MIT Press

04) Online Source: Feminism and architecture part 1: Feminist contributions – Parlour (archiparlour.org)

05) Online Source: Feminist Futures of Spatial Practice: Materialisms, Activisms, Dialogues, Pedagogies, Projections by A A D R – issuu

Author

An architect and interior designer by profession. A passionate traveller who developed inquisitiveness on expanding her knowledge and gathering information on different styles of designs and architecture around the world. She strongly believes that nature and history plays a key role in the field of architecture.

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