• Gendered, Non-Gendered, Re-Gendered Tools for Spatial Production

Harriss, Harriet and Barton, Gem, 2017, Journal Article, Gendered, Non-Gendered, Re-Gendered Tools for Spatial Production Architecture and Culture, 5 (3). pp. 348-357. ISSN 2050-7828

Abstract or Description:

The perennial question, “Can design be genderless?” is further complicated by our contingent, nuanced and transient gender identities. Our collective focus is more often upon whether spatial outcomes are gendered, rather than the gender of the processes themselves. In contrast, this paper considers to what extent our making processes are gendered and the role of linguistics in assigning gender to the tools of production. It also asks whether tools can be un-gendered, re-gendered or non-gendered, and reflects upon the need for a collective, critical awareness of the influence of gendered tools over our design processes and outcomes. It asserts the need for spatial producers – of all genders – to use un-gendered, re-gendered or non-gendered tools in order to subvert and disrupt making and maker stereotypes, and as a means critically to assess their practical utility and political influence.

The paper was first delivered at the conference 'Architectures and Feminisms', Stockholm, 17-19 November 2016: http://architecturefeminisms.org/
Writing from the perspective of interior architecture educators familiar with the parallels between object-versus-absence-of-an object and exteriority-versus-interiority disciplinary tensions, the author explores the extent to which we are complicit agents of gender assignation: by failing to question both the tactic and explicit identity of the objects or tools used to author space. We do this by examining the role of linguistics in assigning gender to objects, calling into question the extent to which supposedly gendered objects inform the wider social relations of space, forcing us to consider the need for a new lexicon of non-binary spatial syntax. Our analysis also reflects upon the outcomes of a making exercise run during the Conference and a student workshop run at the Royal College of Art. Drawing inspiration from the work of Helene Cixous (1999), the Stockholm workshop began with a piece of provocative prose and invited participating delegates to engage in de-gendering objects and/or making their own gendered/non-gendered objects/voids. As anthropologist Daniel Miller identifies, objects "continually assert their presence as simultaneously material force and symbol. They frame the way we act in the world, as well as the way we think about the world’. (Miller, 1987, p.105) Subsequently, the artefacts produced in both workshops are qualitatively examined using the theoretical tools of constructivism within a feminist analytical framework.

Official URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20507...
Subjects: Architecture > K100 Architecture > K110 Architectural Design Theory
Other > Social studies > L300 Sociology > L320 Gender studies
Other > Education > X300 Academic studies in Education > X390 Academic studies in Education not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Architecture
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2018 00:12
Last Modified: 27 May 2019 08:38
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/3272
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