Feminist Practices

Lori Brown

Maryland 2008.JPG

How might feminist approaches impact our understanding of and relationship to the built environment? If feminism, as feminist activist bell hooks posits, “is defined in such a way [to] call attention to the diversity of women’s social and political reality, . . . [compelling us] to examine systems of domination and our role in their maintenance and perpetuation,” we as designers must question normative design relations and their expected outcomes.

First conceived as a traveling exhibition and series of public talks, Feminist Practices: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Women in Architecture focuses on various forms of architectural investigations employing a range of feminist methods of design research and practice by women designers, architects, and architectural historians. The primary mission of the project is to raise awareness among those both within and outside the profession about ways feminist methodologies impact design and our relationship to the built environment.

There were two broad goals in writing this book. The first and most important goal was to showcase more women in the discipline of architecture whose creative practices work at a variety of scales and engage a range of issues through feminist methodology. Women included were emerging in the field as a way to increase exposure of women architects and designers. The second goal was to expand the way we think about architectural creative practice. Architecture is not only about buildings. Designing installations; working in communities doing small-scale design build projects; giving agency and voice to underrepresented groups; researching and writing on pertinent social, political, and economic concerns affecting spatial relationships; and urban strategic planning are all part of the expansion of creative design practices.