UBC Graduate Research

Doing feminism in architecture Daigneault Deschênes, Olivia


This thesis investigates the potential for a feminist practice in architecture. Its first part focuses on how the particular culture of the discipline allows for or prevents architecture to be used as a positive force towards gender equality. Through qualitative research in the form of discussion groups and individual interviews, the thesis identifies a gap in the attitude towards gender between the architectural school culture and workplace practice, on the one hand, and the design process, on the other hand. The first part of the thesis suggest that gender equality in school and in the workplace does not translate in a greater interest for gender relations in design practice and therefore do not lead to an application of feminism in the architectural project. The second part of the design explores a feminist critical spatial practice for sexual health care. The site of inquiry is the gynecological exam room, home of the yearly sexual health check-up exam. Rather than taking the problem-solving approach so established within the architectural education, the project is aimed at deepening understandings of the exam room as a physical manifestation of patriarchy. Through critical inquiry, the project proposes a broad design exploration, organized around 5 cases of alternative exam room designs, each articulating a particular argument. The project demonstrates a potential for critical spatial practice within the discipline of architecture to reveal, unfold and analyze complex physical manifestations of power structures and social orders and, in this sense, make use of architecture as a tool for the development of feminist knowledge.

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