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

Colonial Situations

Colonization is defined as: 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. Ensuing realities are complex, contested and in perpetual transformation. In this label, the word situations is added to the word colonial in 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.

by Women Writing Architecture

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 by Sara Ahmed

by Sara Ahmed


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


No definitions

Cultivated land

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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


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


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


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


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 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


No definitions


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

No definitions


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Shared space

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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 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


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Ways of feeling

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Ways of thinking

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Women as architects

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