“Women are the ghosts of modern architecture, everywhere present, crucial, but strangely invisible.” (Beatriz Colomina, 2010)
Looking through a book collection that compiled life and work of “great architects”, one fact was plain to see: the collection contained eighteen books, each one of them about an important figure of architecture. Among those eighteen, there was only one woman: Zaha Hadid, winner of the Pirtzker Prize.
Faced with this situation, we stated an attempt to remember names frequently mentioned during our studies of Architecture and Urbanism in our graduation period. As well as in the collection, only Zaha Hadid is studied, and Lina Bo Bardi is mentioned sometimes. Sometimes.
As well as their names and careers, the works of these and many other female architects remain forgotten in the shadow of time or are only known beneath the prestige of some big male architect. As mentioned in an article published in The New York Times, “Most female architects have heard the horror stories: Mies van der Rohe’s elevation to the pantheon of Modernist masters, as Lilly Reich dies in poverty and anonymity. Le Corbusier vandalizing House E-1027, Eileen Gray’s masterwork in the South of France. Robert Venturi’s acceptance of the 1991 Pritzker Prize as his wife and partner, Denise Scott Brown, went all but unrecognized.”
While in Brazil (according to the census conducted by the Counsel of Architecture and Urbanism of Brazil in 2013) there is a female supremacy in the architectural practice – they are 61% of the registered professionals -, in England this percentage drops to 22% (Architects Journal). In US only 18% of the prizes (AIA, ACSA and Pritzker) were won by women, and the numbers are even more shocking when they tell about their children, their authority at the construction sites and the wage differentials.
In face of this fact an of the social and professional scenario that we live in, it is impossible to deny that this statistics are going through fundamental changes, either because women tend to occupy increasingly the space in the job market (space before exclusive of men), or because the sexism is in constant debate, bringing up prejudices that women have to go through every day.
In view of this change in the overview and in the lack of visibility (and representation) women still fight against, the collective Arquitetas Invisíveis (Invisible Architects) was born to be an action that brings more space and voice to these genius women that are not only architects, but also artists and representatives of a period . These women are worthy of our prestige and dedication, both to their life story and their exceptional work developed during the years.
The site and the magazine Arquitetas Invisíveis are opportunities to present this multitalented women and their large and qualified production. While the site will work as a database, the magazine will open opportunities to exchange of knowledge between persons/groups that want to know more about this subject. This is a way to promote, at the same time, an experience of knowledge and admiration in front of their works, and also to make a critical reflection about the architecture and the world that we live in.