Altering the role of the professional

October 9, 2013

Another perspective

In the introduction to “Feminist Practices Interdiciplinary Approaches to Women in Architecture” Lori A. Brown explains her approach to feminism within the field of architecture and the overall objective of the exhibit and book. Brown describes how the contributors to the book “…work towards making visible the invisible power dynamics at play. The included projects and essays help to reconceptualize power and create different value systems for design. “ (Brown, Feminist Practices, p. 4).

Even though Browns focuses on methods and the processes of design, instead of a theoretical analysis, she shares the same elementary understanding of architecture as a cultural expression as Leslie Kanes Weisman. Architecture and design is described as a materialization of ideas, why including alternative ways of thinking and practicing is key to achieve diversity and inclusiveness in the physical environment.

Questioning the normative conventions within our profession as designers as well as becoming more culturally and socially diverse as an academic and professional group is Browns’ overall ambition for our professional future.

Brown is challenging the conception of the professional role of the architect on multiple levels. She urges an interdisciplinary approach and encourages social engagement, outside the boundaries of the office. She also challenges the idea of the power relationship between the client and the architect, which often is conceived as “power over” the client, but in the context of feminist practices, is alternatively defined as “power for” the client.

Browns ways of broadening the definition of the professional boundaries of designers and demanding engagement and awareness of the social and cultural dimensions our work is inspirational. The focus on approaches and methodologies are more constructive and motivating than the pure theoretical analysis. It brings the gender question within design from an abstract structural level to an understandable scale where we become aware of how we can make a difference through our actions and methods of designing. But it also dissolves the boundaries between private and public in our professional lives, pushing the profession towards lifestyle instead being just a job.

Johanna Nenander

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