Housing for Spatial Justice

Building Alliances Between Women Architects and Users

Authored by: Ipek Türeli

The Routledge Companion to Architecture and Social Engagement

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138889699
eBook ISBN: 9781315712697
Adobe ISBN:


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Today, many architects are seeking to transcend conventional disciplinary concerns and to directly address social problems through the design of the built environment. Historical perspectives that can guide this commitment, however, tend to be limited in their emphasis of the singular visionary (and usually male) architect, if not altogether missing. New histories of socially engaged architecture and public-interest design must necessarily acknowledge the conditions of the profession itself, such as the value of labour, and gender and racial inequality within the profession. With this conviction, I examine how a group of feminist American architects arrived at low-income housing as a form of alternative, experimental practice in the late 1970s. Based on archival documentation and oral histories, I discuss two interrelated organizations, the Women’s School of Planning and Architecture (WSPA), a radical pedagogical project, and the Women’s Development Corporation (WDC), a non-profit developer of housing. My examination situates these organizations in their economic, political, and policy contexts: the end of Fordism, and the resulting funding cuts for social and public services which led to decline in low-income neighborhoods in urban centres, and the rise of community development corporations (CDCs).

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