International magazine of architecture and project design november/december 2020
Women‘s voices, the voices of contemporary architecture
This issue of Area is focused entirely on women in architecture. The editorial decision was much debated as there were some obvious objections: doesn’t that ghettoize women as a group and maybe risk even devaluing them? And it seems superfluous to dedicate an issue to men, so, from a gender equality perspective, why have one for women? The answer that Area wants to give to these possible objections is the belief that an issue about male architects would be useless as it would not add anything to a type of narrative that has been going on for centuries. Right now, there is gender inequality in our field — as in all others — and we need to acknowledge it and find strategies to overcome it. One of Area’s main objectives has always been to disseminate a way of thinking and making architecture that shows the evolving changes and innovations of contemporary architecture as a source of inspiration and awarene ss. We feel that, in our editorial choices, it is our responsibility to give voice to all contemporary architecture. There are other reasons that have spurred us to publish this issue. First, we see that the discussion on architecture by women has been intensifying in recent years. Gender issues have been increasingly in the spotlight, as true equality struggles to take shape, not so much in legal terms but in all of our everyday lives. Secondly, we feel that we should not leave out of our pages part of architecture that exists, has value, and deserves dignity; most importantly, we are aware of the inspirational potential of the projects we publish, especially for university students. We want to create a propensity in new generations to consider architecture by women as a source of creative sustenance. Another question we asked ourselves in the editorial office was how to convey these deeper questions in the pages we have available. We conceived a special editorial structure for this issue, presenting the topic in the form of a discussion. At first reading, as always, you will find a selection of carefully chosen projects, in which architecture is the true star and speaks to us through images and drawings. On a closer reading, you will notice the different facets of the vantage points we present. The value of this issue is in supporting and bringing out the voices of women architects, creating a dialogue, shedding light on challenges, and demonstrating that skills belong to individuals rather than being the legacy of categorization by group. Each architect interviewed freely expressed her point of view on the subject, offering ideas for a broader reflection on gender equality issues. I have often heard asked, “Where are the women in architecture?” Today Area is showing a small part of the answer with the intent to start writing about them and telling their unique stories. We need to draw attention to the systemic problems in the field that are perpetuating and preventing many women from moving up: there are still too few women architects who are studio heads, directors of university departments, and women managers of construction firms. By talking about them and highlighting their work, we are creating models that are key for those who are preparing to take up the profession of architect. Our publishing contribution aims to amplify the voices of women in architecture, to make them icons of a profession that, though done by them in large percentages, has often sidelined them. Mobilizing, spreading knowledge, building a healthy debate, and supporting men and women within architecture. I don’t believe that this is the only solution, but a direction that we have a responsibility to pursue.