The pioneering arquitect women: the presence of the absence (II) | Cristina García-Rosales

The pioneering arquitect women: the presence of the absence (I) | Cristina García-Rosales

After this small introduction I want to offer an honoring to the pioneering woman architects, women who could live through his life with imagination and enthusiasm, which they were capable of breaking molds and customs, allowing the current arquitectas to cross our way with major facility.

His history has not been written and his work has never been recognized. It is for it for what at least they could have been forgotten.

Though in 1923 the writer Walter Bejamin was affirming that an own culture of the woman did not exist, the memory today teaches us that ideal these ultramodern women continue being ours, those of the current arquitectas, since we will see in the examples that later I am going to show.

Traditionally, the architecture, as well as other technical and scientific careers, they were masculine professions. The woman was relegated to the crafts, to the domesticity, to the private thing; it is to say, to the world of the interior. University vocations did not exist, among other things, because the women had no admittance to the classrooms.

Let’s remember, as example, that in Spain, Concepción Arenal, had to disguise as male to accede to the career of right in the year 1841.

Woman Pavilion, by Sophia Haydn

In the World Exhibition of Chicago of 1893, different groups of women constructed together, for the first time in the history of the western architecture, a Pavilion: that of the Woman. This pavilion was designed by Sophia Haydn, young woman titled in architecture by the Institute of Technology of Massachusetts. (Though it was not the first American woman architect, but Jennie Louise Blanchard,  she was born in 1856).

Of this pavilion the critique said: “If at some time the smoothness and sweetness have been expressed in the architecture, we perceive it in the building of Miss. Haydn”. Smoothness and sweetness are not, nevertheless, adjectival normally applied in the architecture.

The Sophia Haydn´s beautiful build , it was one more inside the neoclassic style Beaux Arts, style that prevailed in the rest of the pavilions of the Exhibition. His intention was to demonstrate that the accomplishments of the women were equivalent to those of the men.

Sophia Haydn

Meanwhile in Europe, she is Elisabeth Siddal the only woman who relates to the design and the architecture in the 19th century. Due to “his magician appears and magnificent neck, as well as to his physiognomy delicate and perfectly formed” it was adopted by the group of the pre-Rafaelistas as model and in 1860 he married Dante Gabriel Rosetti. I do not believe these attributes they could be said in case of having been a man. It was of humble origin, writer and poet, and realized also sketches of architecture.

At the beginning of the 20th century, in the western company – and concretely in Europe – irrumpe a new model I shape of woman.

Companions of trip of the forefronts, generous and enthusiasts, appear the pioneering woman architects.

This way we can mention:

– To the irish Eileen Grey who worked with Jean Badovicci.

– To the finn Aino Marsio Aalto who worked with his husband Alvar Aalto.

– To the scot Margaret Mc Donald who worked with Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

– Sidesaddle Allison Smithson who did it with Peter Smithson.

– Or to the north american Ray Eames, who worked with Charles Eames.

– The German arquitecta Lily Reich or the french Charlotte Perriand who worked with Mies Van der Rohe and Him Corbusier respectively, were simple companions and were not married.

All the architects know to Him Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe or Alvar Aalto. But very few ones have heard speaking about his companions of study, wives or collaborators.

Pioneering woman architects

Other arquitectas that worked in solitarily, as Maïja Isola, and Marianne Brandt, belonging to the Bauhaus, as well as Margaret Kropoholler Staal, Grethe Meyer, Grandma Ditzel, Grethe Schutte-Lihotzy, Lina Bo Bardi or the spanish woman Matilde Ucelay – who was to first that finished the studies of architecture in our country-, have had less recognition, if it fits, that her previous mentioned.

I am not going to try to realize an exhaustive summary of all the arquitectas of this period, though if of some of them, trying to follow a more or less chronological exhibition. Information very difficult to obtain since, except rare exceptions, they are mentioned neither in the books of History of the Art nor in the Encyclopedias of Architecture.

Cristina García-Rosales. Architect

Madrid. February 2014

The pioneering arquitect women: the presence of the absence (III) | Cristina García-Rosales

Cristina García-Rosales

Soy arquitecta (1980). Mis proyectos son muy diversos. En 1995 fundo el grupo La Mujer Construye, en el que ocupo la Presidencia. 

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