Architecture + Gender: Feminist Design Power-Tools

This CRITICAL STUDIES IN ARCHITECTURE seminar is dedicated to the development of feminist design methodologies, with an emphasis on transdisciplinary relationships between architecture, art practice, and philosophy. Participants will be introduced to key concepts and arguments that can be located between architectural and feminist theories and contemporary philosophies. These concepts and theories will be developed as applicable, socio-politically motivated design tools. How do we transfer the concepts constructed in feminist theory and philosophy into practical use in architectural design? How can we pragmatically appropriate artistic and literary practices that have been successful in subverting societal norms, and challenging oppressive power relations, and use these power-tools in our own discipline of architecture? In the seminar we will resituate and reinvent the projects of design practitioners such as muf London; atelier d’architecture autogérée (aaa) Paris; Jane Rendell, Bartlett School of Architecture, London; Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio+Renfo, New York; as well as artists such as the Bernadette Corporation; Mariana Abramovic; Louise Bourgeois; Mary Miss; Cindy Sherman. We will also read a selection of texts from feminist and post-structuralist philosophers such as Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray, Elizabeth Grosz, Judith Butler, Donna Haraway, Diane Massey, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari; Michel Foucault, to develop our powerful concept-tools.

Through the use of text and instructional diagrams, inspired by precedent practices and concepts, participants will be asked to develop a manual of feminist design power-tools for use by politically engaged architects. This instruction manual is inspired by both contemporary instructional art practices, as well as the mundane instructions-for-use we receive with our household appliances, electronic equipment, and motor vehicles. To undertake our work we will be using a seminar blog, where readings and participant responses will be disseminated: To download relevant readings go to:



A: SEMINARS Wednesdays 14.00-16.00 Room A1 (entry level)

KTH Architecture Östermalmsgatan 26

Wednesdays 25 September; 2; 9; 16 October; 6; 20; November; 4 December; and CONCLUSION presentations: WEEK 50 Thursday 12 December (13.00-16.30) in A4

B: LECTURES We also offer 6 lecture-workshops 17.00-19.00 (mandatory for FEX students taking the course, optional for architecture elective students) Room Upper Atelier Inner (Övre Atelje Inre, level 5) KTH Architecture Östermalmsgatan 26. FINAL LECTURE 17.00 on Thursday 5 December, location lecture hall A2 (KTHA)

Wednesdays 2; 9; 16 October; 06; 20 November; AND Thursday 5 December


01::PART ONE: 50% Discussion and BLOG activity (30% for FEX students)

i. Every week in response to the given readings you will be requested to submit an instructional diagram and text BLOG post. Instructional Diagram: You will be asked to produce a line drawing that operates like the instructions for use of a tool or machine in response to the weekly reading. Text: You will also be required to write a 300-500 word response to the weekly reading. You should offer a brief summary of the weekly reading as well as your critical and creative response. Be sure to upload your image and text before each seminar! We will use your BLOG posts during our seminars as an inspiration and prompt for group discussion. The set of instructional diagrams and text responses will be developed toward an A Manual of Feminist Design Power-Tools instruction or activity book, which will be presented at the final seminar. Due by 17.00 Tuesdays before seminar meetings.

ii. Every week you will post a comment on at least one other blog post that has been uploaded by one of your peers. Due before seminar commences on Wednesdays at 14.00 These ‘comments’ minimum six, will be collected in an addendum at the back of your final Instruction Manual (see below).

To be uploaded on the discussion link of our BLOG: 

and presented each week in class.

 02::PART TWO: 50% Feminist Design Power Tool Instruction Manual

You will develop your responses to the weekly readings as an interactive Instruction Manual, to be uploaded as a pdf file to ISSUU: (login will be supplied in class) and then embedded in the Projects category of the archandphil BLOG.

Your Instructional Booklet must include: 1. a title page, and don’t forget your name! 2. Contents page (with 6 chapters, one dedicated to each weekly reading) 3. a brief introductory essay that explains how you have organised your booklet and introduces your key discoveries 4. Revised responses to each of the weekly readings, as well as revised images (based on feedback) 5. A brief 300 word conclusion that reflects on what you have discovered  6. Bibliography where you should include not only all the references you have made to the readings (and whatever other references you have found useful), but also references to any appropriated imagery or creative projects you might have used from architecture, art, film, literature. The booklet needs to use appropriate references, such as endnotes or footnotes or in text referencing throughout. 7. Addendum where you include BLOG comments (minimum 6) that you have made to peers throughout the seminar.

To be compiled and completed as an A4 Instructional manual for presentation on Thursday 12 December 2013, and submitted to ISSUU and embedded in our seminar blog (Submit as a hard copy to me by Monday 16 December 2013).


03::PART THREE: additional exercise for FEX students (20%)

As a FEX student, you will be expected to attend the six evening lectures scheduled (and contact your teachers in advance if you can’t make it). Each 1-hour lecture will be followed by a 40-minute “episode” of the Architecture and Gender Talk Show, wherein lecturers become guests, and you become hosts.

Each of the six episodes of the Architecture and Gender Talk Show is to be produced by a group of FEX students, who will be expected to:

(i) make some basic decisions about the scenography in advance and set up the room (in groups, you will need to, for instance, consider where to position the audience and guests in the room, as well as how you might use the projector or other props);
(ii) moderate the discussion during the show (in groups, you will pose a series of questions that you formulate during the lecture, or even beforehand, you might draw on the close readings and blog exercises you have already done for the seminar earlier in the day); and
(iii) individually, write a short (1 page) “press release” following the show, summarizing the content of the lecture and the discussion (you will be provided with a recording of the show to aid your memory!).

The aim of the talk show exercise is to stage a convivial and critical discussion of the material presented by lecturers. We will discuss the possible dissemination of any material generated at the end of the course (this will be up to you).



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