Respecting others seems like something still distant from prevailing in humanity. In a world where news bombards us with various forms of violence, it is always necessary to find ways to recognize the worth and dignity of each person and to respect differences. We need to cultivate tolerance towards what we don't know, and in this regard, architecture can be an important ally.
LGBTQIA+: The Latest Architecture and News
During July, we delved into the Design Process as our monthly topic. Inspired by practices that intersect various uncommon layers in their creations, we talked with architect Guto Requena. When designing, his studio experiments with different digital technologies through a sustainable lens and with a keen eye on social issues, aiming to deliver innovative and emotional experiences. Today, the architect boasts numerous national and international awards, including the ArchDaily Building of the Year and the UNESCO Prix Versailles.
In the interview, Requena shares his journey, highlighting the diversity of his team as a critical innovation point in his firm. He also addresses crucial questions about fostering innovation and creativity with new materials in architecture, among other topics.
Ornament and Its Discontents
Disguise, makeup. Expression of the subjectivity of a group, language, or sign. Historical document, emblem of fleeting fashions. A crime. Ornaments have been interpreted in different ways and are considered one of the most degenerate sins of architecture. Resisting the temptation of decoration has become a virtue, a legitimate sign of authenticity and a possible future.
As we explore social practices that challenge the dominant model in architecture, we have come to recognize the significance of addressing issues related to identity, gender, race, and sexual orientation within the realm of spatial design. By considering these dimensions, we aim to highlight how the built environment can foster new ways of envisioning society and shaping our relationship with the world around us. To provide valuable insights, we have curated a bibliography that showcases the perspectives and experiences of individuals who defy the norms dictated by a universalizing approach. This collection of 20 books offers diverse narratives that invite us to perceive, imagine, and experience space through an LGBTQIA+ lens.
Space as a gender adjacency and sexuality's spatial dimension are recent themes in architecture. The case of the bathroom as a gender-regulating device is a constantly discussed topic at the intersections of queer theory in architecture. The discussion is even broader within LGBTQIA+ guidelines.
The queer crowd has always been present, finding ways to exist, gather, and celebrate. Although their visibility hasn't always been highlighted throughout history due to the consciousness of having to submit to heteronormative and strict mass normality in the past, doesn't mean they previously didn't have their own spaces to call their own. Queer spaces, past and present, have been categorized as strong, vibrant, vigorous, and worthy of occupying their own place in history, filling in as safe places for identifying individuals, places of social gathering, entertainment, and even offering community housing; therefore, there will always be a need for queer spaces.
Architecture Between a Glorious Past and a Questionable Present: Interview with Greek Architect Andreas Angelidakis
How might your persona or act differ if you were to put yourself before society’s expectations and limitations, embracing your queerness and preferences? Looking into the impact of individuality, we talked with Andreas Angelidakis, an architect to who refers to himself as “an architect who doesn’t build”, but views architecture as a site of social interaction, creating works that reflect on the urban culture by mixing ruins, digital media, and psychology to better understand the power of finding different design paths.
While walking through the city, have you ever felt afraid to be yourself? As strange as the question may sound to some, it is a reality for most LGBTQIA+ people, who at some point have been victims of hostility when they were noticed performing outside the "heteronormative standards" of public spaces. If violence comes from social layers that go beyond the designed space, this does not exempt the importance of thinking about projects that can integrate the physical sphere and insert a symbolic or representational factor to include and educate its citizens. This is the case of Homomonument, which for more than three decades, has become a platform for queer celebration and protest in the heart of Amsterdam.
Queer Spaces and the Path of Positive Possibilities Within Architecture: an Interview with Adam Nathaniel Furman
"Growing up queer means experiencing the destabilizing absence of a broad and accessible queer history, most notably, in our case, in relation to spatial design". This account is what intrigued artist Adam Nathaniel Furman and architectural historian Joshua Mardell to bring together a community of contributors who bring new perspectives to the field of architecture and share stories of spaces that challenge cis-heteronormative morals, sheltering lives that seek to live their own truths. The result of this quest is a book titled Queer Spaces: An Atlas of LGBTQIA+ Places and Stories, which explores stories about distinct social, political, and geographical contexts within the community.
A queer independent bookshop in Glasgow; an ice cream parlour in Cuba, where strawberry is the queerest choice; a cathedral in ruins in Nicaragua, occupied by the underground LGBTQIA+ community. Queer people have always found ways to exist, gather and celebrate and will always continue to. Therefore, there will always be a need for queer spaces.
Canada’s Department of National Heritage, along with the Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien, as well as the LGBT Purge Fund have unveiled “Thunderhead” as the winning concept of Ottowa's LGBTQ2+ National Monument competition. The winning design symbolizes a thunderhead cloud, which embodies the "strength, activism and hope of LGBTQ2+ communities, and will be a lasting testimony to the courage and humanity of those who were harmed by the LGBT Purge, homophobic, and transphobic laws and norms".
Ethical practice spans all parts of architecture. From intersectionality and labor to the climate crisis, a designer must work with a range of conditions and contexts that inform the built environment and the process of its creation. Across cultures, policies and climates, architecture is as much functional and aesthetic as it is political, social, economic, and ecological. By addressing the ethics of practice, designers can reimagine the discipline's impact and who it serves.
SOM' Finalist Proposal for Canada’s LGBTQ2+ National Monument Features Empty Flagpoles as a Symbol of Collective Trauma
Canada's Department of National Heritage has announced the five finalists for the LGBTQ2+ National Monument competition, a project meant to honour the community and recall its oppression during the LGBT Purge period. Among the shortlisted designs is SOM's proposal, consisting of an array of flagpoles stripped of their flags, symbolising the trauma, deprivation of culture and concealment of identity that the LGBTQ2+ community was experienced. Designed in collaboration with Rebecca Belmore, Noam Gonick, and HTFC Planning & Design, the design titled Bapiiwin, meaning survival /overcoming in native Ojibwe, seeks to provide a space of remembrance while serving as a symbol of resilience.
MVRDV, Fathom Studio and Two Row Architect Reveal Finalist Proposal for Canada’s LGBTQ2+ National Monument
Canada’s Department of National Heritage has announced the five finalists for the LGBTQ2+ National Monument competition, a project meant to tell the story of generations of people who have been persecuted, specifically during the LGBT Purge period. Among the shortlisted designs is The Lens, a proposal that turns a symbol of oppression into an identity element and uses the landscape to express the community’s reverberation into society. Designed by a team comprising Canadian office Fathom studio, MVRDV and Two Row Architect, the proposal seeks to express resiliency, creating a space for memorialization and education while providing an inclusive space for the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community.
When crossing a space, a body carries within it many meanings. The reading that translates into this person-architecture dialogue, and the sensations that arise from it, demonstrate much of the social inequality and violent structures intrinsic to the Western imagination, which privileges the same standard: the white man. Finding a place of rebalancing in which it is possible to create an alternation of power —in race and gender - is a commitment by Erica Malunguinho.