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FEMINIST DESIGN POWER TOOLS

INSTRUCTION MANUAL NINEL NIAZI 2013


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION

1.

INTRODUCTION

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2.

FEMINIST MANIFESTOS

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ALTERING PRACTICES

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BODY-BUILDING

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ARCHI-TECHNO-GIRLS

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ÉCRITURE FEMININE

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MATERIALIST ETHICS

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3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

MANIFESTO IS JUST THE BEGINNING BUT NOT THE END! WE MAKE THE DIFFERENCE! OUR BODIES OUR ARCHITECTURE

A READABLE ARCHITECTURE FOR SENSORY AND MATTER AS A PROBLEM CONCLUTION

9.

MY COMMENTS TO PEERS

10.

BIBLOGRAPHY

This booklet is based on seminar-course readings. The course is called Architecture + Gender, Feminist Design Power-Tools. This feminist power-tool booklet is a container of my reflections and/or reactions to the course readings. The whole process opened my horizon of my knowledge so I started to look the theme with a more abroad point of view, on another level. In the Second chapter, I argue/criticize that the Manifesto as a power-tool is a beginning but it is not all we need. In the third chapter, I discuss the participations role in the frame of the design tools. Fourth chapter is about the role of architects and the consequences of the design. Fifth chapter is a discussion of the idea of containers and the environment. In the sixth chapter, I provide a discussion about the perceptions, experiences and how architecture can influence it. Eight chapter introduces matter as a problem and argues how can we be effected by senses within the architecture. The last part includes my comments to peers during the course and the booklet ends with the list of bibliography.

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2. FEMINIST MANIFESTOS MANIFESTO IS JUST THE BEGINNING BUT NOT THE END! Katharine Shonfield writes muf’s purposed formula/design process works. From the particular to general and back to the detail. “It is expressed in the formula d/s= D (detail/strategy= DETAIL)” (K. Shonfield, p.14) But is every question solved with a formula. Will this formula work in different contexts, different places, different cultures… will it follow a good design in a social/nonmaterial context? “What if…” These formulas should be able to translate the theory in the vision and reality. “Recasting them from the individual and private to something which is freely and publicly available” (K. Shonfield, p.17) Public spaces are the context places so here there should be a ladder of strategies and details which will follow the decision making, ladder of decision makers and relations between a context etc. Therefore, we never scape the power relation we just have to manage them! It all maters who are we designing for and where! That’s why there the role of premature gratification is “As a rule in muf’s projects, this involves the transformation of observed sensations of immediate gratification” (K. Shonfield, p.17) As long as life is a process, Design and architecture are a process. Architects, artists and other experts should design not only the physical structure but the process of process of it. Therefore, you should know/analyze the individual first because the individuals operate in many ways. Moreover, individuals shape the space and space/public space shapes the individuals. To conclude the post I can surely say that Manifesto is a tool of communication but to get a result you should use the other tools. There should be corporation of different power tools. We can use manifestos as a warning tool and then contest it in to the structure. In response to: Katherine Shonfield, ‘Premature Gratification and Other Pleasures’ in This is What we do: a muf manual, London: Elipsis London, 2001.

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3. ALTERING PRACTICES WE MAKE THE DIFFERENCE! “There must be 40 years of work to be done on architecture and the feminine” (Doina P. p. xvi) In the Altering Practices illuminates the importance of space and the altering processes ‘other processes’ of changing which makes differences related to time and gender (p. 3). She also illuminates the relation between theory and practice ‘production of theory’, ‘thinking and doing’. (p. 5) We should focus on differences between different culture, place, languages, gender and power differences as feminists always pay attention to relation between powers. Since, Life and practice is an ongoing process, architecture could be a tool to construct identity and reconstruct it. Individuals are different and during the time o do the way of peoples’ thinking, life styles etc. changes and all because of the development, knowledge and technology changes. “Architecture as space and the relation between spaces” (p. xvii) reminds me the relation between environment and people we both affect each other. People create environment and environment effect the way people act! Therefore, there should be an open process with collaboration of different disciplinarians. There are similarities in feminist processes with urban planning. I try to compare their differences and similarities to be able to understand the concept. They create the public space to let public sphere goes through it and try to make thing/people as equal as it is possible. The public participation (regardless participants’ gender, age, profession) is one of the main keys to reach a perfect design in urban planning. Therefore, all kind of public space seems to be the solution! “The need to create forms of public space that welcome this reproductive power of difference: Openly productive spaces that decode themselves as space to be continually re-appropriate and transformed…” (Doina.P. p. 11)

Source: http://places.designobserver.com/feature/incredible-true-adventures-of-the-architectress-in-america/35578/

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Source: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/scarlet-soles-are-a-red-rag-to-feminists-ideology-2011 0410-1d97i.html

Doina’s book is a feminine textually ‘room of our own’ (p. 10) it reminds gated cities/segregation in urban planning processes which creates many problems. Probably it would be a better process considering male’s ideas in feminist activities to be able to change their mind and the way of thinking by involving them to our processes and have open discussions. Since, in almost all feminist organizations in the history majority of members are females… Therefore, we make the differences from the very beginning steps! In response to: Doina Petrescu, ‘Altering Practices’ in Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space, London: Routledge, 2007.

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4. BODY-BUILDING OUR BODIES OUR ARCHITECTURE According to Elizabeth Diller in her article body is understood differently and is used in different movements. Also, what we expect from our bodies from a social point of view in a social life! And, talking about housewives and household, by considering technology and combining different skill we could create ideal order and space “the maintenance of the idealized female body (…) became a project of devotion equal to that of maintenance of idealized domestic space” (E. Diller p. 81). Moreover, how can systems and the way of using thing effect on efficiency, aesthetic and economic so as an example there is the instructions and rules of the ironing… What is the relation with architecture? Architecture is based on standards, functionality, economy, culture, social structure, and politics and so on. Where do standards come? It all back to our bodies and how we feel comfortable physically and/or mentally. Architecture affects the movement of our bodies. Moreover, it creates function and dysfunction, comfort and discomfort “perhaps the effect of ironing could more aptly represent the positional body by trading the large of the functional for that of the dysfunctional” (E. Diller p.85). Sometimes people are forced to move, walk, live… in a specific way because of the design or shape of the space. I like the way Elizabeth describes the fact of folding in her article “The fold has been useful metaphor for the discourse of poststructuralist architecture (…) if something Can be folded; it can be unfolded and refolded” (E. Diller p92). Ultimately, a specific design will not work in all contexts, different complexities, different cultures and places, there always have to be the possibility to shape, unshaped and reshape the space/structure. The important point is to create the “affective space” and let each body use it in its own way and transform it in its own way. In response to: Elizabeth Diller, ‘Bad Press’ in Francesca Hughes, ed. The Architect Reconstructing her Practice, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996, pp. 74-95.

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5. IARCHI-TECHNO-GIRLS Zoe Sofia in her essay reflects to the fact that everything in this world is finalized or belongs to males especially in the western culture. Females are containers even nature according to history is a container of “Big mother of treasures (material, land, knowledge) according the text containers are the mediators between subjects and the external world. They have the role of female with a child in her belly which is passive and feminine while the tools/technology are connected to the male and are masculine. Back in to history many of tools were created for male since the majority of the users were males. While nowadays majority of the women are interested in techniques. Referring to the female womb in Zoe’s text container is a feminine oriented word. Let me disagree with it since, male can be in the role of the containers by caring their ideas. Lets not label things with making them different by ourselves. For instance, Zoe brings the example of male and female designed driven houses, the smart house and GaBe. But in both cases the house provides a flexible, safe, easy … way of lifestyle for its consumer. In this case the house is the container of technology an indoor environment for the individual. Men and women experience the environment by their ways “experience as an ‘environment mother” An architect has the role of the mediator, the container, who should provide a place/space for her infant the individuals/people. “Space experienced by the infant are the inner world of fantasy and outer world of sociotechnical reality” (Zoe S. p.184) , “it is the foundation for later creative experiencing and cultural production which plays on the borders of fantasy and reality” (Zoe S. p.184) In response to: Zoe Sofia, ‘Container Technologies’ in Hypatia Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring 2000, pp. 181-200.

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6. ÉCRITURE FEMININE A READABLE ARCHITECTURE FOR

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When I started my education in architecture my perception of an architect/architecture was really wrong! As Rendell says: “I was thought architects do architecture all by themselves they imagine architecture, and then, (…) they make it, whole and perfect pieces of it, just in their dreams” (J. Rendell p. 28) I thought architects are the ones who create lifestyles by convincing people with their designs and master pieces. And, it was like that in the past. That is probably why Le Corbusier’s perfect city has not completely built yet. Probably, nowadays, it is the same somehow but in another way. We are still writers of the story but with considering too many aspects: Public participation, inviting other professions, analyzing the needs of users and so on. We are also psychologists who provide a lifestyle that people want not the perfect lifestyle in just our imagination. “My own use of architecture is placed between the authority of the father, the male architect, (…) and the voice of the mother, the female theoretician, (…)” (J. Rendell p. 28) Different people have different perceptions of things. Therefore, we are not just architects or planners we are storytellers and we should build that story by providing possibility for most of people to be able to read that. And believe me it isn’t an essay task/process as long as, there are always use/misuse, doing/undoing, agreement/disagreement, and understanding/misunderstanding… Talking about uses and perceptions of space I would like to bring some examples from my own experience. Research shows that women walk/move three kilometers only in the kitchen during a day but men not as much as 300 meters. On the other words, the way people use the space is different because their needs are different. Such as, males and females, their actions and mentality are different. For instance, women can go shopping for four hours just to buy a pair of jeans. While, buying a pair of jeans can take ten-twenty minutes for a man. Responding to space as an example, someone could say if I don’t use the area such as my bedroom, every time, why we built that and occupy the space with a large bed that could be used for another aim/activity. I faced to many different problems while I was doing my thesis work. Municipality aimed for more housing and development of the center in area. Also, there was a huge issue of pollution in soil and water. Cultural centers were afraid that changes in the area will affect the authenticity of the place and people/residents wanted or needed too many things there were too many ideas and problems going on. It was a really difficult task to propose a design considering all aspects. And make it work. I learned to put things in order and see things close to reality. Also, find the better solution where everyone would be happy instead of imagining a nice lovely design which wouldn't suit in the concept. As a conclusion, there is another way of building buildings in architecture! Let leave the aesthetics, beautiful fantastic modern buildings but look deep in what is their effect and role in the life of people. The core point is how we construct them not only from architect’s point of view but for everyone. For the people who, assume their surroundings with more than one viewpoint. Therefore, realize architecture as a psychic building, building spatial relations, social and emotional structure. By letting them being occupied and played by users. We as professionals (architects, urban planners or designers…) should create a “readable space” where, everyone can live, use or enjoy according to their own perceptions and way of living. In response to: Jane Rendell, Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism, London: I.B. Tauris, 2010 11


7. MATERIALIST ETHICS SENSORY AND MATTER AS A PROBLEM “A design solution do not make problems go away, it accept problems as a necessary state” While I was reading the text by Peg Rawes I remembered the lecture of Dr. Ramia Maze where she was not satisfied with the fact that architects/Architectural school, engineers and humanity department are placed away from each other. She preferred to see all of them under one roof! Now I realize what is to be under a roof, to consider all those disciplines and relations in our profession Architecture must not be limited by street, walls, doors and windows. Architecture should be perceived as “inside/outside relations” (P. Rawes p.1) It should be multi-sex for everyone. Sexed subjectivity, culture, history, time, design, readings and speaking etc. their relations should be considered and perceived as aspects of architecture and creation of space. There should be a relation between her and his, thinking and writing… How men and women experience the space is an important aspect. It is time to think further, not only materialistic we always talk about space in terms of interactions which are happening in physical forms but what about ‘sense-based’ interactions. They are kind of left out of this frame. To understand the concept better I will bring an example, The MOD shopping mall in Stockholm with its smell and sound effect creates a special atmosphere. Where, you can experience that non materialistic atmosphere/space by all your senses. It could be the first steps of sense-based architecture. Moreover, material ethical aesthetics are the expression of the life. Neither mater nor abstract (abstract not only visually but sensory) are valuable by standing their own but the mixture of them will be a masterpiece. In my opinion matter is not necessarily grab-able. For instance, it can be a problem/ tested or felt by sensation that you have in a specific context and you try to solve it. Source: http://nyuadi.force.com/NYEvents/EventRegistration?event=QB6hzM7HnHm6Be9_2FJsgkkQ_3D_3D

In response to: Peg Rawes, ‘Introduction’; ‘Touching and Sensing’ in Peg Rawes, Irigaray for Architects, London: Routledge, 2007. Jane Bennett, ‘A Vitalist Stopover on the Way to a New Materialism’ in Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, eds. New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010, pp. 47-69.

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8. CONCLUTION

Moreover, in a design process different disciplines must be involved to reach the relative perfect result. As an architect and planner it is important for me to be aware of all possible aspects of architecture. Because of, the value it gives to my work. Also, makes my work reasonable. World is under never ending process, the life is a process, the design is a process, architecture is a process… We as experts, architects, designers etc. must design the process of architecture not the buildings. Architects and urban planners must shape the social structures not only the physical structure. Therefore, architecture itself is a feminist power-tool; storytelling is a feminist power-tool. Stories must be told in a way to not cause discontext and context! There should be hierarchy in the process and participations. Who is making decisions for whom and where? Thus, Participation is a feminist power-tool. In this case I am not sure about the world power since, the power itself should be relational as well, and should has a hierarchy but I will continue to call it with the same design power-tool!

Comment on the post ‘Who are you?’ Talking about society and humanity probably it can be some formulas to be followed but one solution will not be working in different contexts. Since, it is an important matter who designs where and for whom! Therefore, there should be a ladder of different disciplines and decision. It is a really difficult task for expert/architects…

Comment on the post ‘Power relations’

Different people have different perceptions and experience the space in their own ways and differently. Experiencing gives the opportunity to access the world. Therefore space must be designed for everyone regardless their age, gender, class and color… public spaces are design feminist power-tools.

It is a clear and good post Klara , I enjoyed reading it. I just wanted to add that it is the way people think men has the power or men can do more… who said women cannot! this is because of peoples’ lifestyle women has been considered to sit at home and take care of children and it was men working outside and us the constructions (users of highways) but nowadays the percentage of women who use the same constructions are much more than 30 years ago because of changes in lifestyle and needs of people! Therefore we as professionals probably could find some way to change not only the environment but peoples mind.

Integration of the materials/matter and the interaction of matters are a feminism power-tool. Because it is a tool to explain how the world works.

Comment on the post ‘Back to basics’

And all in all there should be a network of relations between all the aspects and hierarchies creating that networks need time and knowledge. Thus, time and knowledge are power-tools.

World is changeable, cultures are different; people are different so tools will be change to dedicate the specific context. It is an ongoing process.

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9. MY COMMENTS TO PEERS

You wrote a good post in a nice way which could be understandable for everyone not only professionals. As you mentioned in your post, we need all kind of spaces talking about public and private. I agree with you back to basics could be a good tool. But there should be a clear definition of what is public and what is private.

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10. BIBLOGRAPHY Comment on the post ‘Materiality and containment’ It is an interesting post, I think quite similar to you while I was reading the text. I just want to response to the human’s skin. It reminds me the architect who is similar with the skin. It is architect who creates the possibility of the relation between inside/outside, outdoor/indoor or people/the individual and the space. He leaks the problems and all possible aspects and comes up with a solution.

Katherine Shonfield, ‘Premature Gratification and Other Pleasures’ in This is What we do: a muf manual, London: Elipsis London, 2001.

Doina Petrescu, ‘Altering Practices’ in Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space, London: Routledge, 2007.

Comment on the post ‘Architecture by all senses’

Elizabeth Diller, ‘Bad Press’ in Francesca Hughes, ed. The Architect Reconstructing her Practice, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996, pp. 74-95.

Nice post! “Democracy Begins Between Two (1994/2001)” & “To Be Two (1994/3001)” (P. Rawes p.3) In my opinion, neither materialistic nor, abstract/senses are valuable by their own! But a mixture of both in architecture will be a master piece.

In response to: Zoe Sofia, ‘Container Technologies’ in Hypatia Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring 2000, pp. 181-200. Jane Rendell, Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism, London: I.B. Tauris, 2010

Comment on the post ‘Recent studies show brick walls manage emotions like humans do’ Well it is a human/nonhuman or natural/non-natural environment since it is taboo. Scientifically emotions for a wall are taboo because it is not possible to measure or prove by the physics. That made it interesting. Sensory bodies, space, materials or knowledge generates the social relations and subjectivity.

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Peg Rawes, ‘Introduction’; ‘Touching and Sensing’ in Peg Rawes, Irigaray for Architects, London: Routledge, 2007. Jane Bennett, ‘A Vitalist Stopover on the Way to a New Materialism’ in Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, eds. New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010, pp. 47-69.

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Ninel Niazi