The Berlage


The Architect’s Patriarchy


Naked on the edge of a cliff, with a panoramic view of a verdant valley, Howard Roark stands. In the opening passage of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, the male architect's body, one with the granite landscape, refers to robust, permanent architecture as a fixed anchor point in a changing world. With Roark's powerful silhouette, Rand aims to portray the male character as the ideal man. In doing so, she benefits from the cultural perception that architects—just like their designs—embody the essence of masculinity. Although her approach to the male figure as an authority has brought her a lot of criticism from feminist movements, it also sets down how man and architecture sustain each other.

By paying attention to female perspectives, contemporary architects, architectural theorists, and researchers attempt to make the architectural practice more inclusive. However, this is mainly done by emphasizing women in architecture or describing feminine stylistic features in architecture. In this lecture, Namelok tries to expose the patriarchal principles of the architectural discipline—not by examining individual obstacles for women in architecture but by questioning the ideological foundations of the architectural discipline as a whole. What assumptions have played a role in disciplining architecture? How is architectural history structured, and most importantly, how is architectural value assigned? Namelok maps these systems in architecture through an alternation of historiography, historical architectural examples, own work and self-initiated research projects. Masculinity, oppression, and ignorance have led to an exclusive and complacent architectural discipline. If it maintains these character traits, architecture remains a solitary world with minimal socio-cultural impact.

The Berlage Sessions, a seven-part seminar series entitled “The Architect’s Manners,” explores the profession through etiquette and manners, the contractual distinction between builder and architect, the graphic conventions of working drawings, architects and their relationship to social media, the stylization of imagery, the masculinity embodied in practice, and other ways “mannerism” is enacted by architects today. This fall speakers will include Mary Woods, Bryan Norwood, Annette Spiro, Floris van der Poel, Stefano Milani, Namelok, and Jacob and Samuel Stewart-Halevy.

Namelok is a Rotterdam-based studio, led by Wiegert Ambagts and Kaj van Boheemen.

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