chapter  28
Lynne Walker
‘Women and Architecture’
Pages 14

Many women in Britain today are actively involved in a range of activities and positive initiatives related to architecture. They participate in the creation of the

built environment through the design process as architects, planners, engineers and designers and contribute to its production as builders, quantity surveyors, construction workers and, most numerously, as consumers of architecture, users

of buildings and the spaces around them. The work of women architects represents the full range of contemporary

professional practice and includes the public sector, private practice and housing associations, while feminist architects concentrate on projects which give priority to

women’s needs. Although architecture remains a male-dominated activity with 2,502 women currently registered as architects to 25,298 men (about 9 per cent), women in professional practice have made major contributions to some of the best-known

contemporary buildings: the Open University (Jane Drew, completed 1977); the Joseph shops in West London (Eva Jiricna, 1984 and 1986); Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 (Ann Gibson of Scott, Brownrigg & Turner, 1985); the Manchester Crafts

Village (Gillian Brown of the Manchester City Architects Department, 1982); the Thames Barrier (Jean Clapham, GLC Architects Department, 1972-78); and the pedestrianisation of South Molton Street (Iona Gibson, 1977). And there are feminist

architects, or, more precisely, women who are architects and feminists and who emphasise ‘the primary importance of changing the existing design process so that women are involved in decision-making at every stage’,1 who choose to work with

women whose interests are not normally represented in the design process-ethnic minorities, disabled and working-class groups-to provide building types which are intended specifically to serve these groups’ needs-for instance, health centres,

nurseries and women’s training centres. Feminist cooperatives, such as Matrix and Mitra and the Women’s Design Service (WDS), an information and resource centre, work collectively and challenge conventional design philosophy, which they see as

overlooking women’s interests in the built environment.