Helen Thomas (1964–) is an architect, writer, and publisher. She is founder and an editor of Women Writing Architecture.
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.
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.