Glossary



Capitalocene

The term ‘Capitalocene’ represents a critical attempt to advance from the notion of ‘Anthropocene’. Popularized by climate change debates, the term anthropocene describes a geological epoch in which human activity is currently the main driving force behind the global environmental transformation. Its use faces criticism, however, as the term fails to address the discrepancy in the relationships between different human cultures and the biosphere, attributing the phenomenon to a vague, undifferentiated notion of humanity. On the other hand, the idea of capitalocene recognizes that the environmental state of affairs is not a general consequence of human activity, but a specific result of a material culture fostered by the capitalist mode of production, globalized through the mould of Western industrial society. Therefore, it highlights the geopolitical origins of the crisis, as well as its economic nature, demonstrating the asymmetrical powers and the class struggles behind and within environmental conflicts.

by Christian Crevels Eric Crevels

Care

Architecture is in need of care – dependent on maintenance, cleaning, and daily upkeep to sustain its existence. From its beginnings, architecture has been conceived of as a shelter for the protection of human life. Architecture protects us and therefore we care for it. By understanding architecture and care in this manner, it is possible to connect it to the concepts of social reproduction and its everyday labor as well as to the deficiency of a reproducible resources at an environmental scale. From this perspective, care in architecture is thus concerned with a »politics of reproduction« – a political critique of the current struggles not only with respect to the global labor force but also within the terrain of climate change.

excerpt from Elke Krasny ‘Care’ in AA Files no 76, 2019

by Elke Krasny

The moral theory known as “ the ethics of care” implies that there is moral significance in the fundamental elements of relationships and dependencies in human life. Normatively, care ethics seeks to maintain relationships by contextualizing and promoting the well-being of care-givers and care-receivers in a network of social relations. Most often defined as a practice or virtue rather than a theory as such, “care” involves maintaining the world of, and meeting the needs of, ourself and others. It builds on the motivation to care for those who are dependent and vulnerable, and it is inspired by both memories of being cared for and the idealizations of self. Following in the sentimentalist tradition of moral theory, care ethics affirms the importance of caring motivation, emotion and the body in moral deliberation, as well as reasoning from particulars. Excerpt from ‘Care Ethics’, Maureen Sander-Staudt on the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

by Maureen Sander-Staudt

Companion Text

“In the chapters that follow, I refer to different kinds of feminist materials that have been my companions as a feminist and diversity worker, from feminist philosophy to feminist literature and film. A companion text could be thought of as a companion species, to borrow from Donna Haraway’s (2003) suggestive formulation. A companion text is a text whose company enabled you to proceed on a path less trodden. Such texts might spark a moment of revelation in the midst of an overwhelming proximity; they might share a feeling or give you resources to make sense of something that had been beyond your grasp; companion texts can prompt you to hesitate or to question the direction in which you are going, or they might give you a sense that in going the way you are going, you are not alone. Some of the texts that appear with me in this book have been with me before: Virginia Woolf ’s Mrs. Dalloway, George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss, Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. I could not have proceeded along the path I took without these texts. To live a feminist life is to live in very good company. I have placed these companion texts in my killjoy survival kit. I encourage you as a feminist reader to assemble your own kit. What would you include?”

excerpt from Living a Feminist Life (Duke University Press, 2017)

by Sara Ahmed

Construction

If producing a building can be split into a chronological sequence of types of work and action, then the term construction defines the stage when it starts to be built. The architects and other members of the design team often work both at the building site and in the office. The Royal Institution of British Architects has defined this sequence in a document titled The RIBA Plan of Work (2020), which describes stage 5 as Manufacturing and Construction. Two more stages follow this – 6. Handover and Close Out; 7. In Use.

by The Royal Institution of British Architects

Contact zones

The term ‘contact zone’ was first used by comparative literature scholar Mary Louise Pratt, who defined contact zones as ‘social spaces where cultures meet, clash and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of power’. We arrived at ‘contact zone’ after a long discussion around the idea of colonial situations. We reflected on coloniality as a condition that has emerged from colonialism, which embraces the era of asymmetrical power relations and the ensuing and evolving outcomes, which are sometimes called postcolonial and decolonisation, which we live today and into the future. This lead to the definitions defined by the quotes from Mary Louise Pratt’s speaking and writing in the following definition. In the workshop, we also discussed the term zone, which can be a room, a nation, a continent – it implies a geographical demarcation. We also read it in this context as situation, which involves social interaction in a place. Considering coloniality, which continues into the present, we paused on its starting event, colonization: the action of appropriating a place or domain for one’s own use; the action or process of settling among and establishing control over the indigenous people of an area. The ensuing realities are complex, contested and in perpetual transformation. Adding the word situations (colonial situations as an alternative to contact zones) is an attempt to acknowledge that the post-colonial, even the decolonized, bear the traces of the colonial, in their challenge to, replacement of, and sometimes reframed re-embodiment of previously hegemonic histories and structures of interpretation. This is a problematic and difficult term to apply, because it is relevant to all zones affected by colonialism, at every scale in almost every corner of the world but is too easily assigned only to sites of colonisation.

by Tisch Zwei Verein Ennenda Lunchtime Workshop, July 2023

‘I suggest the fruitfulness of conceiving indigeneity, coloniality, modernity, or decolonization in this way, as forces rather than systems or structures. This perspective enables thinking across massively varying scales and ranges, another postmillennial imperative.’

‘Ideas have lives of their own: their inventors don’t own them. There is one common use of the contact zone concept that I find misguided. Sometimes, in liberal thought, the contact zone gets articulated not as a device for imagining situations of heterogeneity, inequality, and conflict but as the name of a solution for these challenges. It becomes an ideal to be aspired to – an Edenic, harmonious place where people separated by deep historical differences successfully collaborate, cooperate, and resolve their differences, each side responsive to the others’ needs and interests. Often this vision is offered as a predefined future, a programmatic agenda. Contact becomes the alternative to conflict. Such a normative use of the contact zone is ideologically coherent; that is, it makes sense. But it denies the concepts critical force, jumps over the necessary step of thinking through the chaotic, uncontrollable energies that are in play. Such an acritical use of the concept cannot explain, for example, how, as in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, peaceful contact zones can erupt into genocidal violence with the strike of a match. Human mobility is the great creator of contact zones, but idealizing them ignores the geopolitical variety of the contact zone’s forms: tourism, migration in all its forms, trafficking, expulsion, exploration, flight. These cannot simply be folded together in an idealized scenario.’

 

Planetary Longings (Duke University Press, 2022): 7, 130

by Mary Louise Pratt

Critique

If art criticism is the analysis and evaluation of works of art, could architectural criticism be applied to specific buildings, or is the subject of critique much wider? It depends on the limits of the term architecture – which can flood into all realms of life and even be described, when freed from canonical definition, as including instances of human intervention for the purposes of living. So, if art criticism is framed by theory, as an interpretive act involving the effort to understand a particular work of art from a theoretical perspective and to establish its significance in the history of art, what could architectural criticism be? Of all the words in the glossary, critique raises the questions of why and who for? the most strongly.

by Women Writing Architecture

Cultivated land

Cultivated is a word that suggests that land can be shaped, it can be mined, extracted, owned. It is a word that suggests human interaction and interpretation. It can contain both the extractive capitalist approach to land but it can also encompass a caring, nurturing approach to land. In German there is the word Kulturlandschaft – this represents the geography of a national or regional culture, and creates an image of the hegemonic culture of a place. This term was imagined in the workshop as a replacement for landscape.

by Ennenda Lunchtime Workshop, July 2023

Domesticity

This important word is laden with implications, since it is often associated with the cult of domesticity developed in the U.S. and Britain during the nineteenth century that embodies a still widely-influential value system built around ideas of femininity, a woman’s role in the home, and the relationship between work and family that this sets up. When conventional boundaries of what and who constitutes a family are questioned, so too is this fixed definition of domesticity. Within writings about architecture, this extends to the physical and spatial qualities of the domestic interior, and their socio-political meanings as they change over time and geography.

by Helen Thomas

Domesticity refers generally to life at home, often with connotations of togetherness and family. The most common examples of domestic architecture are houses and housing, though other building types sometimes include residential associations to communicate explicit messages about care and comfort. Long-standing symbols of domesticity are pitched roofs, chimneys and fireplaces, and fragrant kitchens, though these vary across cultures and geographie. Domesticity has been a focus for many feminist scholars, due to its close association with women and motherhood.

by Annmarie Adams

Drawing

The earliest existing architectural drawing was made more that 4,000 years ago – an engraving of the plan of a shrine into the hard stone of a figurative sculpture. Since then, drawing has been a principal mechanism through which thinking, and the communication of these thoughts, about architecture is carried out. There is a huge diversity of approaches to architectural drawing, from the scribbles of initial sketches, collaboratively produced construction details, instructive diagrams to polished presentation drawings made for seduction. Citations collected under this term – drawing – are somehow connected to the processes and outcomes of architectural drawing, in its many manifestations.

by Women Writing Architecture

Environment­alism

In this context, the term environmentalism overlaps with sustainability, with a focus on the natural environment as a system. At its simplest, to sustain means to be able to be maintained or defended, and as such requires a system within which there is something to be upheld, or sustained at a certain rate or level. With the particular economic and political meaning that this word is freighted with, the reality of any system that constitutes its context is always in flux, always in question, because it reflects the ideological position of the individual or group using it. Most often, the term is used to define the actions or attitudes necessary to maintain aspects of the world as they exist in the early twenty-first century – that the global temperature and sea levels do not rise, that capitalism can continue as the dominant economic system; but this is often given a progressive intention in advocating a change in the system and how it works globally, with an intention towards equality – providing a consistent water and food supply for all the world’s population, for example, equal access to clean energy and economic security.

by Women Writing Architecture

Feminism

The central tenet of this powerful word is a belief in the social, economic, and political equality of women, and it is in this general sense that it has been applied as a thematic term in this annotated bibliography. While this is a clear statement, many complexities are embodied with the ambiguity of its terms, as well as the history of its struggle. As a descriptive term, it has been broken down into various categories which vary with the ideological, geographical and social status of the categoriser. For example, feminism is sometimes assigned chronological waves or stages: from the 1830s into the twentieth century – women’s fight for suffrage, equal contract and property rights; between 1960 and 1990 – a widening of the fight to embrace the workplace, domesticity, sexuality and reproductive rights; between 1990 and 2010 – the development of micropolitical groups concerned with specific issues; and the current wave of feminism that draws power from the me-too movement, and recognises the fluidity of biological womanhood.

by Women Writing Architecture

Food

This word overlaps with other themes in this glossary – with domesticity and the sourcing, storing and preparation of food, or sustainability in a wider political and economic sense that embraces the perceived responsibilities of individuals and communities alike to produce and consume food in response to global issues of climate change, biopolitics and economic disparity, for example. As such, the definition extends out from its descriptive relationship to the objects of consumption into spatial realms of all scales.

by Women Writing Architecture

For children

Writing for children is also writing for adults, and not just those who are imminent, although it is a useful place for embedding ethical frameworks for future life and creative work, and for framing desires and aspirations. This term encompasses writing by women to be read to and by children, but also to send messages to each other, and as such can be a feminist form of writing of a type taken to powerful heights by writers like Angela Carter, Jean Auel, Ursula Le Guin and Frances Hodgson Burnett.

by Women Writing Architecture

Gender

Gender is a social construct whose traditional binary construct – male/female – is challenged by the concept of gender fluidity, which refers to change over time in a person’s gender expression or gender identity, or both. Another direction in which the question of gender as a social construct is extended is into the realm of interchangeability with other species.

by Women Writing Architecture

Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed. This includes norms, behaviours and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl or boy, as well as relationships with each other. As a social construct, gender varies from society to society and can change over time. Gender is hierarchical and produces inequalities that intersect with other social and economic inequalities. Gender-based discrimination intersects with other factors of discrimination, such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, age, geographic location, gender identity and sexual orientation, among others. This is referred to as intersectionality. Gender interacts with but is different from sex, which refers to the different biological and physiological characteristics of females, males and intersex persons, such as chromosomes, hormones and reproductive organs. Gender and sex are related to but different from gender identity. Gender identity refers to a person’s deeply felt, internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond to the person’s physiology or designated sex at birth.

by World Health Organisation

I. To begin with, the regime of sex, gender and sexual difference you consider universal and almost metaphysical, on which rests all psychoanalytical theory, is not an empirical reality, nor a determining symbolic order of the unconscious. It is no more than an epistemology of the living, an anatomical mapping, a political economy of the body and a collective administration of reproductive energies. A historic system of knowledge and representation constructed in accordance with a racial taxonomy during a period of European mercantile and colonial expansion that crystallized in the second half of the nineteenth century. Far from being a representation of reality, this epistemology is in fact a performative engine that produces and legitimizes a specific political and economic order: the heterocolonial patriarchy.

From: Can The Monster Speak? A Report to an Academy of Psychoanalysts (Fitzcaraldo Editions, 2021): 45

by Paul B. Preciado

Learning

No definitions

Monography

An architectural monograph usually describes the work of an individual architect or designer, sometimes that of a partnership or collective, which is often interpreted through the life experiences – also recounted – of the subject. Sometimes the subject is a single building or project. Usually written by one author, a monograph presents a single point of view on the subject, often with scholarly credentials through which it assumes authority. The monograph is a familiar tool for defining the importance of the individual creative figure and establishing a place for them within the canon. Until recently, the lives and works of women architects and designers have not often been the subjects of monographs, but important work in redefining the canon of architectural history has led to a series of books addressing this discrepancy.

by Women Writing Architecture

Oral history

There are several things that can be done to expand the map of architectural history and historiography. First, architectural historians could acknowledge that those who use, occupy, and construct buildings possess unique spatial knowledge. They also could recognize that the stories that these people can tell about the everyday use, occupancy, and construction of buildings can provide different, more intimate insights into their failures and felicities, their nooks and crannies, and the social and cultural “life”. Second, architectural historiography could take a more inclusive stance vis-à-vis the narrators of architectural history, those who convey stories of and about buildings. Polyphony and alterity need not only be celebrated in the stories that are told and the perspectives that are included in architectural history proper but also could extend to those who are writing it.

excerpt from Janina Gosseye, Naomi Stead and Deborah van der Plaat Speaking of Buildings. Oral History in Architectural Research (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2019)

by Janina Gosseye

Shared space

A principal condition of living in a large settlement, a city, for example, is the possibility of anonymity, which requires any collective space – both interior and exterior – to be shared by strangers. During the workshop, we discussed the ways in which the term ‘shared space’ breaks down the distinction between private and public, which has permeated discourse around the city and urban space since the 18th century.

 

The concept of ‘shared space’ also bypasses the focus on functional definitions of spaces, neighbourhoods, districts and regions. Shared space embodies the prevailing power structures defined by economic, political and social factors that produce the multiple and different realities of its users – for some threatening, or controlled, for others welcoming, comfortable, unseen. So, rather than being a qualifier of functional or dysfunctional inhabitation, it is an acknowledgement of the layers of meaning that a shared space can have, ultimately in any settlement, whether a village or a city.

 

by Tisch Zwei Verein Ennenda Lunchtime Workshop, July 2023

Spectra

This word was discussed at the Tisch Zwei Verein Ennenda Lunchtime Workshop in July 2023 as a way of describing or acknowledging writing that in some way explores or challenges the centre or what is considered normal without falling into a binary definition. So the centre in whichever circumstance or characteristic is being written about is not defined by an opposite, but instead situated on a spectrum of possibility. The normal may not be in the centre of this spectrum, and in may certainly slide up and down it, get wider or narrower in extent, or even disappear all together.

 

by Helen Thomas

Travel

Commonly regarded as a (more or less) personal account of a journey written in the first person, travel writing is often considered as sitting between genres, between fact and fiction, and has in the past served a variety of purposes. Trailing the history of travel itself, in the West it has undergone a transformation from those accounts reporting on justifiable travel up to around the French Revolution – religious pilgrimage, mercantile journeys, and variations of the educational Grand Tour – to more subjective descriptions of journeys openly undertaken for pleasure since around 1800. It was this subjective mode that, in many ways, opened the doors for female authorship. Often taking the form of letters or diaries, travel accounts written by women exploited the frequent male admission that the female mind was particularly suited for sentimental descriptions based on the emotional response to the foreign. There were indeed critics who ascribed women with a special sensibility (otherwise seen as weakness) rendering their descriptions of buildings and landscapes particularly vivid and captivating. Travelogues also sold well – so this was a good means to earn a living for a middle-class woman who would have struggled to take most other types of paid work while keeping her social and moral standing in society.

by Anne Hultzsch

Searching for writing by women about architecture in the long period preceding the twentieth century reveals few texts in the conventional sense; that is, familiar within the form of canonical histories, theories and critiques of buildings, ideas and architects’ lives. When this is the case, a more lateral approach to the definition of architectural writing is required, and one of the fields where women, intrepid women, were writing about architecture was in their travel writing, where they recounted their experiences and impressions of exotic worlds near and far, and the buildings they found there, for their counterparts who stayed at home.

by Women Writing Architecture

Utopia

Utopia as a concept is more than 500 years old and its meaning and perception has changed over time. Today it is often perceived as a dirty word which brings with it various negative connotations, especially in the architectural discourse. Various sub-categories of utopia have also developed in the last century – dystopia, anti-utopia, ecotopia, etc. – each supposedly using a different method of creating a world different than our own. But if we look not only at the end results utopias propose, and rather the methods through which they construct alternate realities, we notice that the processes behind all of utopias sub-genres are often similar, if not the same. Utopia should be seen not as a whimsical and unrealistic proposal of a world beyond our reach, but rather as an introspective and often satirical critique of the context within which it was created. All utopias (be it dys/anti/eco or otherwise) are envisioned as a response to a set of specific historical conditions: their forms, narratives, cities, and societies are always a mirror image of our own.

by Jana Čulek

Vernacular

No definitions

Ways of feeling

No definitions

Ways of thinking

No definitions

Women as architects

No definitions

Writing

No definitions