chapter  1
Jane Rendell, Barbara Penner and Iain Borden
Editors’ General Introduction
Pages 7

Research on gender and architecture first started to appear in the late 1970s, largely written by women and from an overtly political feminist angle. Until recently much of this work has remained internal to the discipline, concerned largely with

the architectural profession and issues concerning the ‘man-made’ environment. Published in 1992, Beatriz Colomina’s edited volume, Sexuality and Space1 was the first collection of work to bring ideas about gender generated in other fields-

such as anthropology, art history, cultural studies, film theory, geography, psychoanalysis and philosophy-to bear on architectural studies. What such work provides is an interdisciplinary context for a gendered critique of architecture, one

which expands the terms of the discourse by making links, through gender, with methodological approaches in other academic disciplines. Gender theory, often drawn from other fields of study, provides useful tools and models for critiquing

architectural culture-design, theory and history. Following Sexuality and Space, a number of other texts have investigated

architecture and gender, taking clearly feminist perspectives, as well as exploring

concerns with sex, desire, space and masculinity.2 What such books have in common is their multifaceted nature. They are all edited collections, compositions of different voices; rather than describe the work of female architects or prescribe the

architecture we should be producing, the attitude towards the relationship of architecture and feminism is speculative. Gender Space Architecture offers something different: it is an interdisciplinary introduction which consists of a

carefully selected, comprehensive collection of seminal texts from the last twenty years, organised both chronologically and thematically. This introduction and the three sectional introductions form an important part of the book, offering a map

of the territory and a route-guide through it. Gender Space Architecture is divided into three parts. Part 1, ‘Gender’, is a

collection of seminal texts from feminism and gender studies, introducing key

debates in the development of feminism, women’s studies and gender theory. The

chapters in Part 2 ‘Gender, Space’ largely derive from more spatial disciplines for

whom space is treated as concept as well as context. It-gender, space-covers different ways of thinking about these terms from alternative academic positions, such as anthropology, cultural studies, geography, philosophy and psychoanalysis

and the different ways in which gendered representations can be produced and received in different cultural and social practices-including writing, painting and dwelling. Part 3, ‘Gender, Space, Architecture’, is composed of chapters largely

drawn from inside the discipline of architecture which deal with considerations of different architectural practices: design, history and theory. The chapters explore how feminist ideas have influenced the work of women practising within the

internal concerns of architectural practice, but also demonstrate the specific effects of applying the gender and spatial theories contained in Parts 1 and 2 of this book to architectural ideas. The result is an elucidation of both the importance of

gender to architecture and, conversely, the importance of architecture to gender.