Space does not merely represent a physical domain that humans inhabit, but also a socio-political one that dictates, discloses or dissolves power dynamics between genders. It is also an emotional space that is mentally inhabited. Everyday experiences of the built environment are often shaped by the gender identities of individuals, made more complex by the intersectionality of class, caste, religion, occupation and education levels. Yet, for several decades, architecture and design education has steered clear of gender concerns by relegating them to the social sciences and humanities and predominantly adopting a gender-neutral approach. It is only recently that conversations around the gendering of spaces have begun to be acknowledged in architecture, planning and design academia.
What does gendering of space mean? How has a patriarchal heritage contributed to the privileging of the masculine in domestic, public, corporate, industrial and institutional spaces? What might a gender sensitive environment look like in the future? Academic design and research projects that question the status quo play an important role in keeping these conversations alive and exploring the transformative potential of design. Some students, tutors and independent researchers in India have begun engaging with the difficult power dynamics of a changing society, with its deeply-rooted cultural past, the strong patriarchal society and the more recent gender rights and feminism movements. Issues like access to leisure in terms of time and space, use of gardens and parks, absence of creches and community centers, and psychological impacts of spaces are being addressed in architecture and planning education. These studies look at how aspects like visual connectivity, lighting, urban transport systems, public toilets and more affect the safety, comfort and involvement of different genders.
Such academic explorations on gender and space endeavor to: (a) unravel the historical and cultural underpinnings of spatial practices, (b) map and document the changing and emerging phenomena in private and public realms, (c) integrate spatial agency into the design process, and (d) imagine unbiased futures with non-binary spatialities. However, a substantial body of this knowledge exists as unpublished studio work, research theses and other academic inquiries, limited in its outreach and disconnected from other initiatives and scholarly work on the subject.
The FCA National Colloquium 2023 invites all students, tutors and independent researchers to share any academic work that brings new insights and perspectives into the understanding of gender and space. The Colloquium particularly encourages students to participate. This can be in the form of documentation, theoretical inquiries, fieldwork and community engagement and creative imaginations. We specifically seek the sharing of methodologies, frameworks of analyses, pedagogical tools and design strategies that challenge the norm and forge new processes and lenses of inquiry. Such academic explorations present existing disparities with clarity and create alternative trajectories for an inclusive and gender-sensitive society. Insights from such studies may provide impetus to feminist design practices and strive to bring about a change in how gender, space and spatiality are perceived by the design fraternity. The Colloquium is envisaged as a platform to encourage and collate diverse studies from across the country, while creating a community of academicians interested in engaging with the topic of gender and space.
The colloquium concerns revolve around academic explorations addressing, but not limited to, the following questions:
● How do gender biases, power dynamics and spatial politics play out in the creation and use of spaces, both in the public and private realms?
● Are recent advances in gender rights policies in India changing the perception, use and design of spaces, given the predominant socio-cultural underpinnings? If so, how?
● In what ways have feminist philosophies created newer perspectives and interpretations within the spatial discourse? For example, how is space conceptualized and created through an Ecofeminist perspective, defined as a means to achieve ecological sustainability by looking at nature through a feminist lens?
● How can academic inquiries from a feminist angle/perspective become a means to create a dialogue with the society, be it the general public, professionals or government officials and policymakers?
● Do feminist inquiries in the built environment call for new methods, frameworks and pedagogical tools in education and research? In what ways do they differ from traditional approaches?
● How can we normalize gender discourse in architectural education and practice?
1st and 2nd April, 2023
Registration Fees include Breakfast, Lunch and Evening Tea.
The Colloquium Kit is included only for a two-day ticket.
Registration fees are:
Student: INR 1000 per day or INR 1500 for both days
Non-student: INR 1500 per day or INR 2500 for both days
FCA Member: INR 1000 per day or INR 1500 for both days
For registering, scan the QR code or click here.