On the 12th of February I attended a talk at the Royal Academy of Arts Geological Society as part of the aesthetics and architecture series. It was lead by architect Andres Jaque, founder of the Office for Political Innovation, alongside philosopher and cultural critic Nina Power, author of One-Dimensional Woman.
The main theme of the talk was the discussion between architecture, politics, the environment and gender. Jaque introduced gender as a concept and explored many of his own research projects and others to express the framework for his own complex equation.
– Is there a difference between male and female architecture? and if this is the case then does it contribute to our social construction of gender? Both speakers explored the fluid concept of gender through a series of different projects, importantly, Andres Jaque raised the concept of gender construction within fertility clinics. He talked about how all the nurses and workers inside the clinic ( a place where couples could determine the sexuality of their babies) were female and all the management were men.
Interestingly, Nina Power posed the question of if the aesthetics of architecture are gendered in the same way that society associates gender with certain objects, for example; how toy dolls are often associated with femininity. This is a concept that intrigues me as a female designer because it makes me think what could I do differently? what could I do in order to make my designers gender fluid and stop allowing architecture to shape the roles of men and woman in everyday society especially in the home in relation to domestication, the man out at work and the woman in the kitchen. I strive to look at my spaces from a multidisciplinary approach taking into account architecture, politics and society.
In relation to gender construction, I want to be able to design spaces that are genderless in order to eliminate the possibly of a polarised society. I want to design spaces appealing to any gender and stop the liberal construction that is already clearly evident through the use of everyday objects in society to this day such as blue baby grows for boys and pink baby grows for girls. Architecturally in London especially, we are living in an outdated society that still unnecessarily encourages gender construction which is clearly evident in many major boroughs, such as gendered toilets at train stations.