The underrepresentation of women in architecture has always been a topic of global discussion, often labelling the industry as a man’s world. However, this has been slowly but surely changing in recent years. Women today, are increasingly influential in designing the world and contributing to the ever-evolving landscape of the profession. They bring to the field of architecture, the global changes we see in gender equality and inclusivity.
The National Museum of 21st Century Art (MAXXI), Rome, has now come forward to support and celebrate the participation of women in architecture, through their new exhibition titled, ‘GOOD NEWS: Women in Architecture’. The exhibition inaugurated on the 16th of December, 2021, speaks volumes on the subject, showcasing almost a hundred stories of female architects who’ve proven their talent and worth. The installation project designed by renowned architect Matilde Cassani and curated by architects Elena Tinacci, Elena Motisi, and Pippo Ciorra, narrates the past, the present, and the future of women in architecture, through various exhibits displayed under four different themes: stories, practices, narratives, and visions.
The first section aptly titled ‘Storie’ (Stories) is a collection of stories of 85 designers, practicing architects, and students who have made their mark in the field of architecture through the 20th century, marking many firsts for women in the discipline, The section starts with the story of the Finnish architect Signe Hornborg who in 1890 became the first woman to graduate in architecture; and goes on to include the stories of the first African-American architect Norma Merrick Sklarek, modernist architects Charlotte Perriand and Eileen Gray; and Ada Louise Huxtable, the lady who introduced architectural criticism, and went on to win the first-ever Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1970. The list of important women in this section also includes Lina Bo Bardi, Elisabetta Terragni, Phyllis Lambert, Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo, Cini Boeri, and of course Zaha Hadid.
In the ‘Pratiche’ (Practices) section, the works of 11 women who lead architectural practices around the world, are showcased through pictures, videos, models, prototypes, and installations. Architects Elizabeth Diller (Diller Scofidio + Renfro, USA), Mariam Kamara (Atelier Masomi, Niger), Bendetta Tagliabue (Miralles Tagliabue EMBT, Spain), Lu Wenyu (Amateur Architecture Studio, China), Jeanne Gang (Studio Gang, USA), Dorte Mandrup-Poulsen (Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter A/S, Denmark), Kazuyo Sejima (SANAA, Japan), Shelley McNamara & Yvonne Farrel (Grafton Architects, Ireland), Lina Ghotmeh (LGA, France), and our very own Anupama Kundoo from India, exhibit how differently architecture is interpreted globally.
The ‘Narrazioni’ (Narrations) theme presents 12 interviews of architectural scholars, magazine editors, curators, and young designers, conducted by the Mies.tv collective; while the last section, ‘Visioni’ (Visions) focuses on the intimate relationship between gender identity and space, through videos produced as part of the Future Architecture Platform programme.
The exhibition finally ends with a site-specific installation titled ‘UNSEEN’, designed by Mexican architect Frida Escobedo paying homage to the Bauhaus artist Anni Albers. A series of related events are also being held at the museum during the exhibition that runs till the 11th of September, 2022.
Photo Credits: Maxxi Art