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The Grand Domestic Revolution · The Sphinx in the City

The Grand Domestic Revolution

The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities was written by Dolores Hayden and came out in 1981, MIT Press.

The great merit of this book is that it shows various alternatives of living and architectural designs as well as built realizations developed by feminists in the years between 1870 and 1930. The United States have a long tradition of collective and communitarian buildings, of experimental utopian socialist ideas and designs. Coming or inspired from this background material feminists developed alternative designs about how to organize reproductional work and requirements – not only to release women from their traditional role as housekeepers, mothers and servants but to introduce another way of living which was based on realized equality, non-sexism and abolition of the separation between production and reproduction. Early feminists developed for example buildings with only one collective kitchen or other collective infrastructure. Looking at contemporary architectural production, it is obvious that all these ideas are still unrealized or transformed into new service structures which only rich and established people can afford. Today, utopian socialist ideas especially within architecture seem to be on the dark side of the moon and their gender aspects ? as well. Still, if obvious or not, the idea of the nucleus, heterosexual family is dominating architectural production especially in housing if you look forexample at gated communities. On the other side and in a lot of countries, the typical single family is no longer the dominant model of existence. Housing production mostly does not react to these societal differences but continues to reproduce the traditional hierarchical outlines, apart from the fact that social housing or even housing itself is no longer at the centre of local and national agendas. Also for this reason, this publication is a helpful tool to bring back into mind that alternative, de-gendered ways of housing and architecture are possible.

Yvonne P. Doderer

Dolores Hayden is Professor of Architecture, Urbanism, and American Studies at Yale University. An urban historian and architect, she has written extensively about the history of American urban landscapes and the politics of design.


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