Feminism: Creating designs that advocates social change

in Architecture+Design2 years ago (edited)


Our design has a unique ability to alter our cognition and rewire us to develop new habits that may one day eliminate the way we see gender roles. Our designs can empower and make everyone feel like an integral part of society. We can overcome preconceptions through sensitive designs, but designers must go beyond cognitive, political, socio-cultural, and gender biases to do it. Throughout history, human design has been to improve our lives. Designers must recognize political movements that challenge the supremacy and privileges of one group over another. Feminism is one movement that fights for inclusivity. As we progress toward a more global and diversified society, these concerns extend to various gender groups, ethnic minorities, and other social groups.

Feminism means we cut off social stereotypes of gender roles. We treat everyone equally, with the same constraints and respect. Do we look at it as the definition of equality, right? But we can also label it feminism, considering that our society discriminates more on the feminine characteristics of men and women. Society must accept the feminity in all of us, and it will be what true gender equality can be. Feminism encourages us to look at everyone beyond our biological genders. I am not saying here that we need to be part of the LGBT or become a feminist. But what I am trying to convey is to give equal respect to everyone regardless of gender and status. Maybe, we can have a society that holds respect beyond social, cultural, and biological descriptions.

Gender is an essential factor in how we think about how we occupy space and the design elements to put in the space users like how we choose colors for our homes and their bedrooms. We always tied it to the gender of the person using the built space. Our design can be stereotypical sometimes. I think it is okay as long as it fits the liking of the person living in it. It isn't that we construct space in different ways. But we must address women's needs and their viewpoints, especially for communal or public. We also apply the same idea to those who align with the LGBTQ community. Everyone has a particular way of thinking about the space they dwell on, how we occupy it, or what we need.



Design can help close this gap between gender roles even quicker since it can compensate for what nature cannot. It can identify specific situations when design interventions can assist us severe ties with gender roles and biases or even biological flaws. Our designs can receive influences from our society, culture, politics, ecology, and even economics as we deem fit. We should consider that everyone is valuable and has a story to tell. Feminism in design is not about building autonomous and distinct spaces for women. But considering the interconnections of people that will use the building being inclusive to everyone.

The concept of feminist architecture is still relevant today. It encourages us to reconsider the assumptions that underpin traditional building provision and design and the unequal connections that it may perpetuate. It's a bit cliche to say, buildings do not form us, whether our gender, color, class, or sexuality, do not define us. Our interactions with structures and places influence how we live our lives. It is similar to how we constantly account for what men, women, people of color, or those with a disability supposedly be.

Architects' design fuels engagement with one another and creates facilities that can impact all phases of life. Architecture should be welcoming to everybody. Design is a tool for us to achieve function and beauty in our built environment. It can feel someone included and have a dignified experience. We can use design to encourage the vulnerable that they are part of the world. Feminism in design strives for equality and gives everyone a sense of being included in our built world.




The feminist design doesn't necessarily mean to design more, but observe and analyze our built environment of what it brings to our lives and how it pushes back restrictions and social stereotypes. A feminist designer speaks out loudly and proudly to the requirements to make our built space inclusive, not just to women but for everyone. Throughout the years since the 1970s, feminism in design has been the same and becoming better. Push the boundaries of inclusiveness in our design. Also, it seeks for social change, transform rather than describe.

Our modern architecture and feminism are of the same coin. Feminism enables us to rediscover space and be inclusive, which influences how we design modern built spaces. Feminism shaped how we create our domestic space. It is a common stereotype in our society before that man at work and women at home. Today, the stereotype doesn't hold since we can see men and women can be at home or work to their preference. Feminist architecture embraces a design that addresses our concerns of racism, social justice, and caring. Also, it aligned with gender equity and sexual identity.

Modern architecture, taking influence from feminism, allowing us to incorporate efforts other than our own as part of the rich and diverse history of improving not just women's conditions but everyone's welfare. Feminism in design enables us a better understanding of how we establish and challenge gender roles. It encourages us to look beyond sexism and victimhood or our judgment of what is good or bad. It is about designing a space that advocates for inclusion and progress. We cut ties with stereotypical design and foster space for everyone. Modernism is always multifacet. It incorporates regression and progression.

Feminism in architecture may attribute to softer organic form and pastel colors that moved beyond masculinity loopholes, but it isn't limited to that. Modern architecture and feminism tie within the prism of being inclusive to everyone and a cause for social change beyond stereotypes. I may not talk about how we design feminist architecture and dwell more on its cause change. Again, our design can transcend behind function and aesthetics. It can empower not just women but everyone for the sake of social equity and inclusiveness. We can eliminate prejudices via sensitive design. Feminism in architecture and design goes beyond cognitive, political, and socio-cultural biases.

Check out my previous post on Architecture and Design Community




  1. Jane Rendell, Only resist: a feminist approach to critical spatial practice, The Architectural Review

  2. Mary McLeod, Perriand: Reflections on Feminism and Modern Architecture, Harvard Design Magazine

  3. Sai Shruthi Chivukula, Feminisms through designs: A practical guide to implement and extend feminism, Featuredialogues: Feminisms in design by ACM

Photo Description and Credit

  1. The Gallery at Sketch London is the pink dining room that launched a design trend. | Photographed by Ed Reeve from India Mahdavi

  2. Hannah Rozenberg creates architecture without gender bias | Photo from Hannah Rozenberg

  3. Superkilen Park is painted with feminist's vibrant tones pink | Photographed by Iwan Baan

  4. The library is arguably the space most similar to The Wing’s New York clubs. | Photographed by Tory Williams from Architectural Digest

  5. The club's green-infused tea room uses square patterns to great effect, from its trellised walls to its flooring. | Photographed by Tory Williams from Architectural Digest

  6. Enlarged pink-and-white gingham cloth and window pane fabrics are utilized in one common space where pictures of renowned British ladies hang. | Photographed by Tory Williams from Architectural Digest

  7. A pastel watering hole, known as The Perch. | Photographed by Tory Williams from Architectural Digest


Gender equality has been a controversial topic of the social sciences since time immemorial. And Feminism, as a concept in architecture, is one way of providing fairness to the practice by leveling the playing field. In fact, the female hormone "Oestrogen" is also present in men, while "Testosterone" is similarly found in women. All human beings have a shared characteristic. So, why should we discriminate by stereotyping people? Being open to different creative expressions in design is the key to progress.

To illustrate, take the late architect Zaha Hadid. She had huge opposition from her male counterparts early in her career because she was a woman practicing a profession dominated by men. It was an uphill climb for her yet, with perseverance, she became the first woman to achieve the Pritzker Prize, the highest award and honor for architects, and became a global celebrity. She also transformed the architectural community with her state-of-the-art concept called Parametricism. If you've noticed this style, there are lots of distinctive curves that demonstrate the female form.

Many thanks, @juecoree for this awesome post! This is clearly a wake-up call.

When I was indulging in my readings on feminism, design and architecture, I often encounter late architect Zaha Hadid in the text. She is indeed one of a kind architect that her designs transcend beyond the norms. I think Feminism in architecture seems more than making the playing field equal, but it speaks volume to how architecture influences social change. Even unconventional Le Corbusier had dwell on feminism in one of his design.

Honestly, it was my first time hearing about Parametricism, but digging deeper to that I come to see it is a familiar way of design through algorithms to produce legant curves. Much like you have said, Parametricism has the distinctive curves of females.

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Oh wow, this is a really great post about how design and social change can go hand in hand and the vital role design has in social change.

A bit like genderless toilets and opting for singular stalls rather than blocks. Awesome post

Glad to hear that it was a good post. Design and some of our advocacies can go hand in hand. Architecture and design is in the sweet spot to push ideas that we are advocating for.

A bit like genderless toilets and opting for singular stalls rather than blocks.

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