Architecture has been the domain of men for a very long time. It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that German universities started training women to become architects. Today, less than one third of all architects are women, but that number is expected to increase to more than half by 2020, as there are currently more women than men enrolled in architectural degree programmes. The German Museum of Architecture (DAM) in Frankfurt wished to draw attention to this development with an exhibition and a large international symposium.
The exhibition “Woman Architects" (Frau Architekt) has portrayed such prominent women architects as Emilie Winkelmann, Lilly Reich, Karola Bloch and Sigrid Kressmann-Zschach-Losito. On the basis of their biographies, the curators highlighted and explained various historical developments. Winkelmann, for example, opened her own office in 1907, which made her the first self-employed female architect in Germany. Karola Bloch, wife of the philosopher Ernst Bloch, put food on the table for her family by working as an architect while in exile in the United States. Later the avowed communist moved to former East Germany to the city of Leipzig, where she worked as an architect before resettling in West Germany in 1961. Sigrid Kressmann-Zschach-Losito was a celebrated architect in West Berlin in the 1960s. With 300 employees working under her, she designed several large-scale projects such as the Steglitzer Kreisel in Berlin. Lotte Cohn, who had studied at the Technical College of Architecture in Berlin, moved to Palestine/Israel where she became the region's first freelance female architect.
The accompanying conference offered insight into the status of international research on emancipation and the women's movement in the 20th century. It also hoped to shed light on the circumstances today and developed scenarios for the future. A catalogue documented the research findings.
Research supervisor: Mary Pepchinski
Architects: Emilie Winkelmann, Elisabeth von Knobelsdorff, Marie Frommer, Lotte Cohn (IL), Grete Schütte-Lihotzky (AT), Lotte Stam-Beese (NL), Grit Bauer-Revellio, Iris Dulin-Grund, Verena Dietrich, Lilly Reich, Karola Bloch, Sigrid Kressmann-Zschach-Losito and others
Speakers: Edina Meyer-Maril (IL), Mary McLeod (US), Harriet Harris (GB), Helena Mattsson (SE), Mariann Simon (HU), Lynne Walker/Elizabeth Darling (GB), Katja Frey/Eliana Periotti (CH), Yasmin Schariff (GB) and others