The Danish Architecture Center (DAC) has opened its latest exhibition titled “Women in Architecture”, which showcases the contributions made by female architects across the years. The exhibition highlights women in architecture across time, age, and geography, and explores projects designed by Danish architects such as Hanne Kjærholm, Karen Clemmesen, Lene Tranberg, Dorte Mandrup, and others, along with installations by international architectural studios such as Tatiana Bilbao Estudio, Helen & Hard, and Ensamble Studio.
The exhibition comes as a response to how female architects have been relatively less visible in architecture compared to their male colleagues, and have not designed much of the world’s city halls, banks, and churches. However, their architectural achievements and breakthroughs have greatly shaped society and the world we live in today. The exhibition sheds light on some of the women who have played a pivotal role in conceptualizing, designing, and building Denmark from the 1920s to the 1970s. The historical part of the exhibition, “The Archive”, which was prepared in collaboration with scholars from the University of Copenhagen, celebrates the untold stories and overlooked accomplishments of female architects such as Ragna Grubb, Karen Hvistendahl, and Ingeborg Schmidt.
The exhibition also highlights contemporary architects, asking them to share their experiences as architects in Denmark today and how they tackle gender and equality topics in the industry. Projects by prominent women such as Dorte Mandrup, Lene Tranberg, Thea Christine Høeg and Christina Gimenez from “Sexism in Architecture”, and many others, will be on display, covering a broad spectrum of architecture, landscape, urban planning, and academia. In addition, an titled ” A Room of One’s Own” draws on the English author and feminist Virginia Woolf’s 1929 extended essay of the same title in which she questions how if women were to be able to create works of significance, they must first be financially independent. Installations designed by three of the most notable international female architects will give their take on what “A Room of One’s Own” means to them. Tatiana Bilbao from Mexico, Siv Helene Stangeland from Norway, and Débora Mesa from Spain present: “A Room, You and Us”, “Body & Mind Spa”, and “The Room”.
Helen & Hard’s installation, titled The Mind & Body Spa Prototype is a structure dedicated to the act of collective contemplation and meditation, exploring “how we can construct spaces of calm in today’s frenetic and distracting world”. It is made entirely from timber which recreates at 50% scale a wellness space designed for Marina Abramovic’s summer home, offering visitors a space to focus on the mind and body while their senses explore a composition of contrasting natural materials. The installation demonstrates the design skills used to create the complex geometry and architectural features, including seating fixtures woven into the walls. Its modular construction allows the installation to be easily dismantled and reassembled, which is why the firm is using offcuts, and will also repurpose the installation following the exhibition.
The installation is a prototype for a larger project between Helen & Hard and performance artist Marina Abramović. The spa, which is set to be built within the landscape surrounding Abramović’s home, is designed as a space for the artist’s physical and mental preparations for her performances. The installation exhibited at the DAC will eventually adjoin smaller rooms dedicated to individual spa treatments and rituals. Following the exhibition, the Mind & Body Spa Prototype will be installed in a sea house on Norway’s west coast, with a view of the sea.
Written by Dima Stouhi