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Wiki Women Design on Unforgetting Women Architects
4 March, 2021
‘It’s time to write women architects back into history’ is the first message Despina Stratigakos conveys as a subtitle of her article ‘Unforgetting Women Architects: From the Pritzker to Wikipedia’. This sentence indeed expresses the urgency of the matter. The Flanders Architecture Institute is commencing this writing back into history’ on a Belgian scale with Wiki Women Design.
Stratigakos’ step-by-step analysis of why women architects have been excluded from public awareness, and the clear argumentation of why contributing to Wikipedia is the most logical, inclusive, and straightforward solution to the problem in our digital age, form both the foundation of and the leading thread through the project.
She writes: ‘…damnatio memoriae, after the ancient Roman judgment passed on a person who was condemned not to be remembered…Today, in modern architectural history, it’s simply what we do to women architects’.
The forgetting of women architects is due to numerous and diverse reasons, some of which form a vicious cycle. Museums, archives, and libraries have neglected to collect women’s work, making traditional research methods impossible. This has led to the absence of female architects in architectural history books, which again has led to them being considered irrelevant for institutions, keeping them difficult to research, and so on. However, the last 20 years have seen an increase in publications on women architects. This knowledge, unfortunately, is still largely invisible and women still rarely appear in course syllabi or major museum collections. ‘The books and articles alone have not been enough to build a collective memory that recognises women architects’. The solution to making this knowledge publicly known, is to make them Googleable.
Wiki Women Design’s goal is the recuperatio memoriae of women who’ve contributed to Belgian design heritage. Through publication of articles on Wikipedia, Wiki Women Design aims to break the vicious cycle, allowing this knowledge to become accessible and more generally known. The presence of women’s contributions in the collections of Wiki Women Design’s partner institutions is also re-investigated.
Aiming to be as inclusive as possible, Wiki Women Design calls on the collaboration of its partner institutions, students, volunteers, and the Wikipedia community to publish more histories of women into the World Wide Web.
Very fittingly, Despina Stratigakos concludes the article with the following quote from Sue Gardner of the Wikimedia foundation: ‘Wikipedia will only be as diverse as the population itself: you can help make that happen. And I can’t think of anything more important to do, than that.’