"Women Architect" Exhibition, brings together women architects and their work from Germany and Turkey.
Architect Özlem Erdoğdu Erkarslan, who has been one of the members making the Turkish side of the exhibition happen and Nuran Ünsal, one of the architects taking place in the exhibition, answered my questions on women in architecture.
You could visit the exhibition virtually from the Goethe Institute website physically at Chamber of Architects Istanbul Büyükkent Branch, until 31.07.2021.
Architecture is Still Dominated by Men
Even the need to curate this exhibition tells us that the architecture is still a field that is dominated by men. Özlem Erdoğdu Erkarslan draws attention to the demand of women to architecture education. Even they graduate successfully, “In the shaping of the structing environment, in the decision-making mechanisms, there are still men.”
Nuran Ünsal agrees to the male domination in architecture, "like any field" she says, and shares an experience:
In the Government Office Project Competition, the governor is also in the jury as advisor. After the last result envelope is opened and the best project chosen is made by a woman, the governor asks, ‘How come a women made the best project amongst all these architects?’ The governor is also a man. All the jury members are men!
I don’t know what she would say if the governor was a woman. But when I am in a jury and a woman’s name comes out of an envelope, I correspond with joy."
Believing equal representation is as important in architecture as in any field of life, Ms. Erdoğdu Erkarslan says:
After the investment of education, the reward to the efforts and time should be in equal fruitfulness. Furthermore, in design, it is always problematic to define the different layers of a space from similar perspectives. The designer is expected to feel the different needs with empathy and reflect them as a subject.
However, when this subject is predominantly male/white/heterosexual/Anglo Saxon, then we can make sure that empathy will be ineffective.
Turkish and German Architects Side by Side
“What do we see when we look at the women architects and architectural projects they created?” I ask. Ms. Ünsal believes there neither woman or men or Turkish or German of an architect. “If the names are closed, we could not have differentiated sex or nationality. They are all successful works in their subjects.”
On the other hand, Ms. Erdoğdu Erkarslan answers my question as follows: “The two countries have a coinciding political and cultural history. Then with immigration an utterly different encounter comes. The exhibition itself, while bringing together the women architect subjects together, it did not dwell upon common historical legacy. However, it opened new perspectives and networks for us on what we could search for in archives in our future research.
Introducing 18 women architects from both countries and aiming to create a space for dialogue amongst them, the exhibition seems to attain the objective with this last comment. To go through the exhibition please click here