The Housing Question is a Feminist Question: Housing Commons for the «New Woman» of the German Werkbund
Margarete Knuppelholz-Roeser, Haus der Frau, Werkbund Exhibition, Cologne, 1914; in: Despina Stratigakos, “Women and the Werkbund: Gender Politics and German Design Reform, 1907-14,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 62, no. 4 (Dec., 2003), p. 501.
6:00 pm


The Housing Question is a Feminist Question: Housing Commons for the «New Woman» of the German Werkbund

Ioanna Piniara

Ioanna’s research operates at the intersection of feminist studies, architectural history and the commons discourse with the aim to enrich the latter as a radical theory and practice for conceptualising equitable collective living. Her research project employs the theoretical framing of feminism through the commons that supports the liberation of women from capitalist and patriarchal exploitation by recognizing their oppression through the burden of reproductive labour in the mass-produced nuclear-family apartment type of the 20th century. As a contribution to this framework, the project studies the context of the emergence of a “new woman” in the early Weimar Republic. In particular, it investigates two collective living models designed by women in the 1910s and the ways in which feminist struggles for a new social order were advocated in feminist movements and enabled the first generation of women practicing architects in Germany to reconceptualize housing. Two case studies, the “Woman’s House” (Haus der Frau) at the 1914 Werkbund Exhibition and the “House in the Sun” (Haus in der Sonne) in Berlin Potsdam, document the perception of the “role of women in modern society” and its design expression both within a formal movement (Werkbund) and in practice. Through their historical and typological reading, the project aims to explore the radicality of these architectures in accommodating feminist claims administratively and typologically. By addressing the housing question as a feminist question, the close reading evaluates the possibilities that emerge from a spatial order that caters for women’s various roles beyond that of the wife and childcarer. In other words, it evaluates the potential of spatial orders to make new social orders and structures conceivable.

Ioanna Piniara was research fellow at the LOEWE research cluster “Architectures of Order” in summer 2022. In this public lecture, she will present results of her research project. The event is also part of the CCSA Talks.

The event takes place online via Zoom.