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Architecture + Gender:

Feminist Design Tools - A Manual Reflections for enabling a feminist approach Johan Alvfors

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Index

Introduction

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1. A manifesto is not an answer

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2. Anti-checklist for alterities

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3. Body-building

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4. Designing leaking

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5. Succeeding to escape by failing

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6. An economy of senses

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Conclusion

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Comments on others’ posts

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Bibliography

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Introduction

Welcome to my personal toolbox! With the intention to preserve thoughts of how to change my way of architecture, I created this manual not as a hand-on tool, but as a container of ideas, an environment of thought in which I can fall back and find new potentials. The reflections, or sometimes reactions, to the inspirational texts, are personal and I don’t know what value or even content they could have to someone else or universally. But give it a try, and please continue to discuss, critique, add on... In the first chapter, I critizise the way in which a manifest is sometimes seen as a written utopia, and support a strong interchange between ideas. The “Anti-checklist for alterities” is a list on which me and my practice don’t want to find ourselves - bullet points outlining my reading of the unreflecting mainstream. The third chapter is more general and gives a hint on how architects could help to scatter norms and open up, while the fourth is more concrete, suggesting a model of thought for envelop design. The fifth, perhaps the hardes to grasp, tries to describe how misuse of instruction can bring me out of old tracks and invent, add to knowledge and avoid normative thinking. The last is once again more directly relating to architecture practice, proposing a way to afford a new methodology. Johan Alvfors Stockholm, 11th of December 2013

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one perspective one life

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image manifest argument structure

hybrid reality

yet one image manifest argument structure

another perspective another life


1. A manifesto is not an answer

In society, there are no clear, uncontested solutions and no right or wrong that is independent of specific interests. The way we deal with this is through processing opinions, through intersecting different ideas of what the right decision is. The decisions usually concern structures on which we all are depending, and the tools are called talking, reading, debating and other forms of interactions with other perspectives than those brought by ourselves. An example of this is the physical environment and the broader debate of architecture and its manifestos. A manifesto is by etymology something that is clear or obvious. In a pluralistic, complicated world, this means a structure introduced by a person or group; a structure that makes this world understandable, ”clear”. It is in part where every creation that is a reaction or consequence of a situation begins (which must be more or less anything that is not random). Creating a structure to build on is a prerequisite for every decision, even if this structuring is made subconsciously. This structure – the manifesto – could take innumerable shapes, and it is obvious that each such structure must exclude another, since the author of a manifesto only is a part of the whole. At some point a decision has to be made, a power used, an order imposed. In other words, each manifest is at once what makes architecture possible, but also what excludes.

Just as there are no clear, objective answers in society, there are not to the smaller questions that make up the whole. It is easy to understand a manifesto as an utopian scheme which in itself is desirable, whether it addresses structures of space, thought or process. However, this would be to impose one structure over the others, which from a holistic perspective is a failure. A manifesto must be understood as an argument – a clarification of a view, manifestus, and as such it is a tool, not an answer to any problem. It can only be valued when it is contested or defended, when its structure becomes worn and interfered with. For the complexity of our society, a society of diversity, there can be no whole solutions. Our life lies in the compromises. Not refering to, but reacting 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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2. Anti-checklist for “alterities”

Given whom we are – individuals tightly bound together in a network of norms and power structures that are inseparable from our view of the world – alteration is hard. Trying to break free from our point of view, I am immediately faced with the question of new reference points, directions and goals. This is challenging, partly because anything designed, planned or conceived still will reference where I come from, but also because I, as an any individual but particularly as a person with the qualifications to become a part of the heart of the patriarchal system, am used to the comparative convenience of leaning against habitual structures. I also have an even strengthened set of norms: I do not only carry with me what an individual with my background would normally have; I have also passed through a normative education, In one way making me more less suited for the job I am educated to do than most. Even if I write this text from my point of view, I find it hard to point out an absolute direction for my practising in order to avoid conformation with the norm. Telling someone what to do, I feel, is just the wrong way of creating the unexpected. Instead I suggest the opposite approach: an anti-checklist for my “alterity”. It is easier to recognise what I need to change, to point out the most obvious traps, instead of precisely defining the exact methods of my practice and thereby excluding what I do not yet know. I see this not as a tool of correction or an absolute template; I think a feminist practice needs to be nuanced and open to discover new relations. Rather it is an indication that a practice with too many checks might need a rethinking.

1. Is there no engendered subject, or an imprecise subject with no private body-relation to the space? 2. Have I found a solution to a known problem? 3. Does my practice or the result of it integrate seamlessly with the spatial, organisational, procedural, juridical and economical context? 4. Does my practice retain power relations in my context? 5. Do I know the context, or do I assume I knew it? 6. Do I copy or paraphrase known ideas? 7. Is my practise free of contradiction? 8. Did I do what I was expected to do? 9. Could I control the whole process, or were all the actors known by me? 10. Did I have the intention of equity, such as equal sharing of recourses and space? 11. Does my practice have an appealing image to the gen eral public? 12. Is my practice large in scale in relation to my context? 13. Is my process characterized by rare or one-way commu nication with the client? 14. Do I have a clear picture of the consequences of my practice? 15. Do I generally feel comfortable? 16. Have I done this before? … This list could be used for any level of design: on a practice, a project or on a single design decision. The convention is one, the possibilities are infinite. Doina Petrescu, ‘Altering Practices’ pp 1-7, 10-15 in Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space, London: Routledge, 2007.

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3. Norms and complexity

Elisabeth Diller writes about how norms of efficiency in household work has hit hard mainly against women. Weather or not this norm of efficiency applies also to the traditional realm of men’s work is not addressed in the text (expect the example of the soldier). I would argue that the industrial work in the modern era became subject to the efficiency norm earlier than the household work. However, the social reforms of working time, taxation etc. during the 20th century did not take the houshold labour into account, diminishing its status further. Isolated from the regular context of work in society, the household work is an area exclusively ruled by norms, and as such very conservative. I consider this structure of regulation rather than the current norm, to be the underlying problem, but from the perspective of the individual, the problem must be challenged through fighting the norm.

home that leads to production in a certain way, or is it the economy of production and retail that shapes our wardrobes? Or is it even the norm that a shirt is expected to have orthogonal creases that has become the true reason for the maintenance of the norm? As Diller puts it: “The by-product of efficiency [the creases] has become a new object of its desire.”

Interestingly, Diller describes how the norm of efficiency is strengthened by means of uniformity of space throughout the production chain: ”The standardized ironing pattern of a man’s shirt habitually returns the shirt to a flat, rectangular shape that fits economically into orthogonal storage systems – at the site of manufacture, the factory-pressed shirt is stacked and packed into rectangular cartons that are loaded as cubic volumes onto trucks and transported to retail space where the shirt’s rectangular form is reinforced in orthogonal display cases and then, after purchase, sustained in the home on closet shelves or in dresser drawers, and finally, on trips away from home, in suitcases.”

A norm can only exist if space allows members of a group to coordinate their actions and allow for that certain action. So far, a system of norms and economy has driven us to create uniform space, resulting in widespread and potentially more oppressive norms followed by many. A higher complexity of space would arguably create more complex norms. This could be a heavier burden for the individual in terms of work to reach conformity. On the other hand, complexity on a mesoscale, for instance square cupboards in one flat and triangular in the other, would probably weaken the norm. The challenge for architects is to propose complex but economically feasible space.

Which orthogonal space is to be regarded as the chicken or egg in this chain is not clear – is it the storage space at

Whatever the reason, it is clear that this uniformity helps maintaining the norm. The linearity is striking, a recurrence of a shape that is not of the body. What architecture does is creating space. I think architects could be dissident by proposing dissident space, by assuming that norms follow space, which is a natural assumption given that a norm technically speaking exists when a majority of a group perform an uncoordinated action the same way.

Reading: 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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Sitting in my chair, I can see my favourite tree and the flowers in front of my house.

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4. Designing leaking

The careful mapping of container technologies was very helpful to me in explaining various patterns in society, without using the explanations offered by economy, sociology and rational choice. It links issues such as discrimination, destruction of environment and homelessness by acknowledging our failure to value the container, the mutuality between container and contained, and regarding “containing” as an active action. I think that the future for containers is getting brighter: issues such as education (people as containers for knowledge instead as a tool in themselves) and the shortage of energy and natural resources (the earth as a container rather than a resource) bring perspectives accepted by more and more people. In science, our understanding of the world as an interchange between energy and matter contained within a structure, shows sharply how integrated the “passive” matter (storage, supply) is with active components. For architecture, the “container problems” of today are enormously important. With a colder socioeconomic climate and an awareness of the problem of energy supply, architecture as a container (facilitating environment) becomes even more prominent. It must provide a safe environment, a home, for the individual, without prohibiting exchange with society – it should leak. Simultaneously it should contain the precious climate and energy accumulated in the house – without leaking. Those, and other container functions of the house, create a tension in the house, and most prominently in the shell and its openings – that is the task of the architect to handle. The questions of private space and climate control have always been part of the objectives of the house, together

with efficiency of function, social status and protection. The importance of the factors has varied as a result of what needed to be provided by/in the house, in contrast to what lacked or was supplied outside of it. In the modernist approach, the climate was less of an issue because energy for heating was supplied in abundance to the apparatus/ house. On the other hand, differentiated and normatively complete functions were needed for large parts of the population. Today, houses grow as a result of increasing segregation (= abundance of money for those building), while trying to save energy (which is no longer in stock for the house to consume. With time, the issue of reparation arises – a house in disrepair is also a sign or disregard for the container. Any architect could create a container. The hard thing is to design the leaking. It should be made as precise as possible, without prohibiting a change of use or environment in the long-term perspective. For instance, the ventilation of a house need to allow for leaking air but contained warmth under certain conditions, but also the opposite. The windows need to leak light (offer the wanted views), but contain energy. The envelope should contain the silence undisturbed by the highway, but leak the dripping of rain. I think that all architecture is some sort of container – not only houses, furniture, landscape… even Banham’s fire create an extremely leaky and inefficient container. Therefore I argue: There is no such thing as architecture [apart from differentiation from the not-contained]. Readings: Zoe Sofia, ‘Container Technologies’ in Hypatia Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring 2000, pp. 181-200.

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Navigating Stockholm with a map of Barcelona


5. Succeeding to escape by failing

To me, writing was always about a story, always about communicating something. And about the fear for not being able to position myself, of exposing myself to the risk of being uninteresting, misinterpreted, ignored. Writing. A symbol for the cultivation process. Explaining, teaching, changing, bringing up, educating, until I had lost all opportunities for misinterpretation. At that point, I had became the person I was culturally destined to be, making sense within a system, understanding the references perfectly, helping out within this society, creating solutions that perfectly fit into the system. What is outside of this system cannot be communicated. The very tools give preference for misunderstanding other intentions; indeed they prohibit other intentions at all. And yet they are there, the want to break out and the dreams in which it is real and possible. Between intention and left-over In architecture, it is impossible to get both. I can create space with an intention and without risk. Then my intention will be fulfilled, and what I created will reflect the structure of my intention. I can also create without intention, with risk that another will will fill my work with an intention that never was. Economy strictly preferences the first in advance, but the second in arrears; because the intentional exist within the structure and the unintentional is a piece of the dream about a space without conflict. We cannot produce what we need. I try to write something uninteresting or unintelligible, only to find out that I can’t, not yet. Maybe I just need to

learn, but I feel that my education, my culture, preferences a better use of my time. Away from the individual, my interest is truly, even if it is learned, not in myself but in collective challenges, in social issues and climate change, in the politics and struggle for a better world according to the frames we now know of. In science, with the basic assumption that we must set out from what we know to understand more, because anything else cannot be compared, communicated or understood. Between insecurity and the known Nothing is as conservative as insecurity. The tools to create insecurity are inherent in the collective nature of society. To be left out is dangerous, to be included is restricting. What challenges the accepted is unintelligible, and cannot be spread. Writing a manual is an act of confidence, an act of sketching a path to lead right. In a society that responds to difference with neglect and expulsion, we will write the manual that meet the Standards and Expectations. Even within a critical academic context. The individualistic component in the struggle against collective presumptions and structures disturb me more than those obstacles themselves. Why? Because it is convenient, it gives hope that we can survive together; it formulates problems clearly and makes solutions possible. I don’t want to learn writing with my left, because what I do with the right is celebrated and known to me. And I clench to the question: “How can we meet our collective challenges, if we just look for our individual freedom?” – forgetting that the collective might only be a product of insecurity.

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Between trust and misuse To write a manual about diverging from the programmed path is like making a map over a place you have not seen. It will be revealed or fail. We must use the gap between the information available to us and the limits of our knowledge to misuse an existing map. We can trick ourselves into avoiding structure, following maps we trust but don’t understand, into exploration without cultural blinders. I often dream of a space in between the individual freedom and the collective structure. A place where I can be a free me, but where I am not alone, where I can make myself understood and yet not governed or excluded. It is a space of communication, of respect, of solutions to the internal and external, the private and the common; a space with conflict but without closed ears and hopelessness. When I try to construct this space, it is no longer valid and must fail. This is the kind of space that can only be left over, found and expanded, it can’t be prepared room, only take room. That is why we must learn to do the uninteresting, the whimsical, the not-thought-through. That is why we must allow ourselves to be bad at what we do, to fail, and to celebrate the results as a sign on resistance and as a preparation for recognition of the moment when it comes. -------------I didn’t understand the readings this time. I felt that I couldn’t grasp it, but my conscience wanted to approve, because I know I should, and because people I respect do. By forcing myself to react to what I did not understand the

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way the authors intended me to, I might have succeeded in misusing their text according to their intentions. At least, I hope so. I hope my manual can be used in the same way. Readings: Hélène Cixous, ‘Coming to Writing’ in Hélène Cixous, Coming to Writing and Other Essays, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991. Jane Rendell, Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism, London: I.B. Tauris, 2010.


6. An economy of senses

In my studio, we do proposals for housing on a site in the periphery of Stockholm. We have visited the site. We took photos, wandered between the parked cars, felt the gravel between shoes and asphalt. Smelled the restaurant nearby, heard the metro passing, the noise of the highway on the other side. Rounded the small plantations. The smokers have left their fags on the ground. Our presence has been noted; we have been watched from the surrounding buildings. And we have spent time there, before we left. We have a bodily experience of the site – we have smelled, heard, felt and touched. We have been active, multisensory subjects. I believe there is an economy of senses at work in architecture. Like any economy, it affects processes, optimizing certain outcomes that are considered to produce a certain utility for us. An economy is not inventive as long as it exists under unsecure conditions. This economy is under the influence of the normal economy of money in society, and the economy of time, learning and credits in the academic context. The economy of senses is a building block in the systems that create most architecture. In my studio, we work exclusively with abstractions. Some create models of the site and try out geometries and volumes, expressions of card and foam. They search for the sightlines, for volumetric relationships to please the eye. Others do schematic diagrams of activity and spatial relations at hand, constructing a complex but yet simplified idea of how reality works. Others again draw plans and sections, counting the square decimetres in search for a perfect arrangement for the presumed function. The tools

at use are all concerned with the eye and the brain, working smoothly into the tradition of western thinking. Because the economy credits certain outcomes, it influences our behaviour. Given what is scarce (= what does cost, that is time), those things tend to be foreseeable solutions, clear organisations, which in its turn lead to abstractions and the use of tools that easily and quickly communicate the abstractions, with minimal disturbance of pre-existing shared values and rules. The subject is less economic than the object. We abandon tools that can bring sexed relationships into design. In my studio, there is a constant lack of time. The mind constructs things bigger than time will let us express, which leads to disembodiment of ideas. We try to express much with means we have learnt through, knowing that sight is an efficient sense to use. Through this forced decision – rational in relation to demand – some qualities cannot be communicated and lose their influence on the result. Under the circumstances, we do not want to change – as in all power relations, the current state is convenient to those in power. The limitation of choice is at one hand both a prerequisite and a limit for architecture. Just as the brain of a child react to responses by removing some possibilities and promoting others, our understanding of what we create need a common ground of methods for communication – that is, communication cannot be individual, even if we can have ambivalent or differentiated interpretations – but must also allow for

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the dialogue with the self, independent of this economy. In my studio, we develop a sensory relation to our abstractions – a kind of meta-tactility. We talk about the qualities of the materiality in a model, which is perceived to have both representational value but also a value in itself. We develop a sense for knowing how our computers – themselves a proof of the dominance of visual means in the current economy – work and ascribe them feelings. We carefully tune the graphic style of our drawings and filter our images to express something more than what the show technically. Those abstractions are given a value on the “market” of architectural critique. Maybe it is filling in for the missing sexed tools in our process? I see this “phantom tactility” as proof for our receptive capabilities towards sexed modes of interaction and with our design process. So much so, that we tend to keep it even if it is not required in a certain project – it has become a habit that itself brings us utility of stability, predictability etc. – a kind of private economy often thought of as method. Thus, the method does not depend only on the economy, but also on habit or culture. It reflects Irigarays theories of “a new positive “economy” of touch and sensation which is created through shared intimate spatial relationships and histories”. I think it is this delay of adapting to economy that we must use to bring in new methods into design. Just as Irigaray, I also think that this is the best argument for the architectural education to be separate from commercial or institutional practice. In an environment where the values of outcomes can be

modified, we can achieve methods with the potential to challenge the dominant architectures and unsexed modes of communication. In my studio, we need to learn again to design from smell and sound and touch. We need to build methods and competence so that our next action when we feel the park bench or hear a door close is equally obvious to us as when we see a drawing. We need an institution that puts out the light. Readings: Peg Rawes, ‘Introduction’; ‘Touching and Sensing’ in Peg Rawes, Irigaray for Architects, London: Routledge, 2007. Inspirational practice: arqbauraum, www.arqbauraum.wix.com/arqbauraum

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Conclusion

“Feminist design power tools� was the name of the course. I am still not sure about the power. What I have created feels more like a guide to thinking than to doing, a guide to enable the brain instead of the hand. Of course there is power in this, but I could not help feeling that it was not the direct, feminist power of action and release of the body in space, but rather the indirect release of thought in a controlled environment, before going letting out physical action. In one way, I failed to break through the ice, withholding the separation between inner and outer world. For me, who have always been interested in the political and philosphical aspects of architecture, without any previous experience, this work has been both a relief and a challenge. Relief, because it has given me something like a foundation for my position, and a better ground to stand on while acting. It has brought me into contact with feminist actors that I would otherwise not have read (I am a slow reader when it comes to texts outside of my current interest). It has done things to my self-confidence, without really proving that I actually know what I write about (I feel that more of a critique situation for each text would have done good. It has also been a challenge, just because critical studies always seem to be a process of relearning, reforming and redoing. Everything from patterns of thought and language to action changes, and that is a process to which brain and body resist. With a constant change of environment, I as a leaking organism will continue exchange, moving back and fourth between perspectives and understandings of who we are,

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what we eant and what to do. I only hope that I will be able to stay on this strand for quite some time and build here, because it has been a rewarding experience.


Comments on the posts of fellow students

Comment on Katla’s post “Zoom in and/or zoom out”, October 2, 2013 at 7:47 pm I think it is a great idea to follow this idea to challenge the usual pattern of how to work with scales. I have also used the microscope at times, and more than else to lift out a detail, a process, an action, and study its precise conditions, and extrapolating from that. This allows you to get away from preconscious structures and create the unexpected – an experiment that will get reactions. It is not to design in a safe way, but it is probably be worth it! Just watch out for how you go from the detail to the DETAIL. The “close up look at strategy” could prove to be the hardest, and tends to bring back what is already known. Maybe this is where there is a need for conscious provocation? Comment on Cristoph’s post “Taking over the Inglorious, the Stupid, the Ugly and the Beautiful”, October 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm I will continue to spin on the thread in my own post: that nothing is absolute. When we say that a certain floor plan suits certain values better or worse, we are generalising and making presumptions. What we above all must do is to embrace the complexity! The famous Churchill quote “we shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us” is interesting to bring into the discussion. On a basic level, we must agree this is true. A building create frames for what is possible, and social norms, economy etc might amplify this effect. However, the quote was said not as an observation but as an ar-

gument for a very conservative agenda, and must therefore be questioned. Of course there are limits to what it takes to break the rules of a buiIt environment; as the citation states the situation is that of frames within frames. What is interesting is rather the gap that with time or within a generalised group happens between intention and use, which is not so much activism as something unconscious. It is the symptom of the frame of the house rearranged to fit the inside. This rather than the activism of an individual will break an oppressive structure. Comment on Klara’s post “Power relations”, October 9, 2013 at 10:44 pm Thank you for a very good post with clear statements! It made me thinking about two things: First your statement that feminist theory applied to architecture means discussing, on the other hand the selfplacement in a context, wanting to change from our individual perspective. To begin with, these situations (processes) are somewhat different. One emphasises the mind, the other the body. What is the relationship between them when it comes to power relationships, external forces – and from what point do we in fact discuss or take place? Except all the experiences given by our environment and reflected by us, what is left? And what are we if not sums of the two? We are not constant, but are formed in interaction, just like our environments. It comes down to if there is any such thing as “being your-

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Comments (continued)

self”, playing that role och arguing for that standpoint – and if that would be enough as a feminist tool. I tend to thing otherwise. Because acting the way we want is a reflection of the way are expected to, maybe we should force ourself to go further, to “thwart” our own processes. Comment on Matilda’s post “Dissident Living”. December 11, 2013 at 9:22 am: It is striking how we came to quote exactly the same passage! I also interpreted the text much the same way as you, and drew almost the same conclusion. I think your notice of the impossibility for women to conform to the norm is interesting, correct and sad – that is the nature of an oppressing norm. However, as you described the “perfect businessman” dress in the “right” clothes, I came to think about my own ambiguous relation to these norms. It has been something I hated already as a small child – I shun the shirts I had to wear on festive occasions. As I grew older, I have used the “tool” och “correct dress” in certain situations (as performer, in political situations), but still lived very much outside of considering it an ideal. On the contrary, it strikes me how thin (albeit viscous) the polished ice of the “successful man”-image is, and how a slight shift of attitude can crush it. One person can seldom destroy a norm, but one person can, at their own cost, distinguish himself (or herself? I don’t really know) from that norm. In the case of the shirt, that cost has always been very low to me. I find it very easy to see the ridiculousness in all those men dressing the same, worrying about their orthogonal creases. Not to ignore the fact that it is real and

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has implications for other people, but rather because I can feel better that way; I can see beyond it and be part in the game with my own rules. As I said, my cost for deviation is low – and coming to thing about it, it might be because the option of conformity is open to me, I just have to open the wardrobe. I always wonder if this option is open to my female friends. At least I know some of them much more comfortable in a suit than me – although I never interrogated them further on the issue. Maybe you have a perspective on this? Comment on Jordan’s post “change. hope. a way out”, December 11, 2013 at 10:19 am: Thanks for an /as always/ interesting and thought-through post. A very precise response with existential underpinnings! It is very absolute picture that you draw – a map that is just as attractive as complete, which makes it a bit daunting. Do we really have just three options? In this time of (seeming) choice, it is an unusual choice, but maybe, that is all there is, and maybe, that is fine? Anyway, I felt tempted to challenge the triangle and find hidden corners. My first doubt arises from the mere completeness of your triangle. It seems to me that we as persons would never experience the whole triangle, never live the options at once. Somehow, the perspective seems constructed. I imagine that I only can iterate between poles along those bent lines, and that gaining the full perspective and realising it is a triangle (if it is) would take a very long time. You might not have meant it to be this complete, and in that


Comments (continued)

case, I am sorry that I misread your representation. If I am correct that I could only have a partial sight on my options, i wonder if I would at all see them as such. Would I be able to distinguish hope from change while working for change driven by hope? That is, if I at all cared about the problem and did not see hope – or faith – as my way out? (Where is the place of “contentment/ignorance” in the diagram?) That change is hard to control is proven – but that it can have no destination is once again a glance at myself from above, some sort of message from a perspective I don’t believe in. Much of this is just a reaction, because i believe that all complete systems will fail. If you stroll around along one line at the time, you are almost bound to fall into a hole that is not on the map. I don’t know if you would call that a sortie, but at least it is an outlook of curiosity, accepting my inability to draw the map you have done, and to end this comment.

an object - a mirror - for the self. I really admire their courage, because I think this is all about courage. The outdistancing (or judging) of strangers is a sign that we are continuously searching for ourselves, and we are concerned that what we see in someone else might disturb the fragile and passing image that we maintain. To have the courage to momentarily stop searching the self and meet someone without comparing, to listen with a sincere interest, is a kind of constructed freedom. I confess that I envy them that is, my mirror is still out there. Just as you describe - and now I continue to compare - I also tend to change my mind, to “welcome back”. But why this time lag, why not spontaneity? Because of our insecurity? I think that there are some things that can only be changed if you start it, some moments when the step to the world without mirrors is very short, were we can take shortcuts to prove our network of pretended relations wrong. Sooner or later we will take the chance and learn.

Comment on Elsa’s post “refuse to disappear on cue”, December 11, 2013 at 11:54 am What a wonderful post! Your conclusion - “we are the others” - is really the baseline of solidarity, it is an understanding on which we can build to save the world. But under this, all this confusion! I have friends, some of them very politically committed, who never seem to do this judgement. Friends to whom there seems to be no others, where the other is never just

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Bibliography

Cixous, Hélène: ‘Coming to Writing’ in Hélène Cixous, Coming to Writing and Other Essays, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991. Diller, Elizabeth: ‘Bad Press’ in Francesca Hughes, ed. The Architect Reconstructing her Practice, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996, pp. 74-95. Petrescu, Doina: ‘Altering Practices’ pp 1-7, 10-15 in Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space, London: Routledge, 2007. Rawes, Peg: ‘Introduction’; ‘Touching and Sensing’ in Peg Rawes, Irigaray for Architects, London: Routledge, 2007. Rendell, Jane: Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism, London: I.B. Tauris, 2010. Shonfield, Katherine: ‘Premature Gratification and Other Pleasures’ in This is What we do: a muf manual, London: Elipsis London, 2001. Smith, Gerhard: Chapter “Stocks and Flows” in ‘Information Architecture of Cities’ (iBook) ETH Zürich, 2013 Sofia, Zoe: ‘Container Technologies’ in Hypatia Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring 2000, pp. 181-200. Inspirational practice: arqbauraum, www.arqbauraum.wix.com/arqbauraum

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Potential space

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Toolbox for my Alterity: Feminist Design Tools  

Booklet with results from my participation in the course Architecture + Gender, Royal University of Technology, School of Architecture, autu...

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