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Steps towards vision – on the sidelines of Women’s Day

Steps towards vision – on the sidelines of Women’s Day

Back in March, for the MÉM MDK research project “Hungarian Women Architects,” we read about how unclear the answer to the question of who was the first Hungarian architect was. Professionals and interested parties are invited to a thematic tour of the city, the focus of which is buildings completed by Hungarian women architects, and written by Julia Burundy, Walk Leader.

Men among themselves – can the status quo be reconsidered?
The circle of designers who characterize the Hungarian architectural canon is not very diverse: we find mostly men among them. However, the idea that men will do better in areas that require technical thinking is a hypothesis that has been refuted countless times. The emergence of more and more architectural organizations embracing “women’s issues” on the international scene (eg ufvAbBelgium; salonAustralia) also indicates that women are here and ready to take control of their own progress and career development.

At home, however, the masculine, masculine interpretation of architecture seems to have remained in the public mind, which is well illustrated by the underrepresentation of women in professional and scholarly public life, in architecture award-winning circles, in the media, and in architecture teaching curricula.


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MTA Research Centre, Designer: Dezsőné Tóth, Budaörsi út / photo: dám Kátai

In the meantime, the phenomenon of the glass ceiling* and cryptic and/or sexist comments in the salon are still an integral part of Hungarian professional practice, and every week there is at least one panel of men** on architectural subjects – under this circumstance, the talk is still About efforts that focus on the status of women’s struggle and highlight it against the wind. (Not to mention fact-checking!) However, there is reason for optimism: lately, something seems to have moved on, and the discourse on the subject seems to be reviving, whether we take the exposition about Nanavigen’s birthday as a basis, or recall the conversations that unfold automatically. (Because of my connection to the area, I’m also hearing more and more about the latter from acquaintances.)

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Difficulties of defining gender in the Hungarian architectural community
Circumstances are further complicated by opposition to the term “architect”. Many people feel that it has a pejorative and demeaning connotation, which is why it is not surprising that some women in the profession are determined to fight the term “architect.” If the goal is to achieve professional equality of opportunity, it cannot be a monolithic view of the entire architectural community. As a group, because the result of this approach is the invisibility of women, the use of the term “female architect” will continue to be justified until representation of women in professional forums and representation of interests becomes axiomatic.


https://epiteszforum.hu/Szirtes út Apartment, designer: Éva Spiro / photo: Dániel Kovács

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Szirtes Apartment Complex, Designer: Éva Spiro / photo: Dániel Kovács

Despite the unfavorable starting conditions, it is necessary to open a dialogue that reflects on the status of women, as a new interesting phenomenon in architecture education has emerged in recent years. Among the students who have just started their studies, the gender ratio shifts towards the majority of girls – thus the topic becomes more pressing and requires substantial answers. How can fair professional practice be ensured for women? How can conditions be created for family and career to coexist on a larger scale? How can harmful stereotypes surrounding female architects be eliminated?

A thought-provoking stroll through the city
In March 2023, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, she Blue City Promenadeto And MÉM MDK with research project entitled “Hungarian Women Architects” We have invited working and professional people interested or interested in the cause of women architects to walk together.


https://epiteszforum.hu/ Women's Day track

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Women’s Day Road Walk

Walking is an excellent way to learn experientially, while adding a new layer of knowledge to our everyday urban spaces, in our case from concrete impressions of the work of female architects. We based the knowledge imparted on the interim results of the research project, while also making sure that the topic of architects was as high on the agenda as possible. Realizing that we will not give a complete answer to any of the above questions on a city tour, we tried to draw attention to the identified problem area.

What could be the role of the march in improving the status of women working in architecture? On the one hand, it corrects a (small) part of the painful gaps left by the previously mentioned architectural canon, briefly summarizes some career paths, and brings closer the work of designers who were previously known only by hearsay.


https://epiteszforum.hu/ First stop for a walk in the Éva Szirtes apartment complex / Photo: Dániel Kovács

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First stop for a walk in the Éva Szirtes apartment complex / Photo: Dániel Kovács

Another important role emerges in dispelling stereotypes: the buildings visited together are diverse in their scope and functions, thanks to which we can take a critical stance against the generalization that women prefer private spaces (housing), while men prefer representative public spaces (public buildings) can bear fruit right in designing it.

And third, which may also be one of the most important aims, is to extend the discourse that has been initiated and to involve as many people as possible in thinking about the subject together.

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Unfortunately, we cannot measure the direct impact of the Women’s Day walks, but the great interest and “full house” show that through the initiative we have touched on the issue of moving many in the profession here and outside, which covers many age groups Based on experience, it also seems, that it should Repeat the walk, and perhaps use it as good practice in the future, and buildings designed by other women architects should be hung along the walk route.


https://epiteszforum.hu/ Getting to Somlói t Station / Photo: Ádám Kátai

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Getting to Somlói t Station / Photo: Ádám Kátai

Small steps
Walking into Women’s Day we’ve only been able to grope the problem, find the real answers (and research other related questions), we’ll need a serious attitude change in the galactic architectural community. I think fertile ground exists for that: walking tour and Women in architecture During the first year of the project behind us, I got to know many loyal allies and witnessed the compassion and support of the initiative countless times. However, in order to achieve any kind of change, it is necessary to identify and name problems, even if these critiques call into question important pillars of the status quo.

Julia Burundi
Architect, PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Social Research Program at the ELTE School of Sociology, Women in Architecture Instagram Project Initiator, KÉK Városi Séták Project Officer

Glass ceiling: the phenomenon when the professional advancement of a person with the necessary qualifications and experience is possible only up to a certain level. The factors that impede progress are not fixed or mentioned in advance, they invisibly impede progress in the hierarchy.

** Men’s panel discussion: round table discussion, professional speech, debate, etc., invited participants are exclusively men.

Edited by: Daniel Kovacs, Viola Pliskovic

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