Date of Award
Master of Architecture (MArch)
In reaction to contemporary society, where women’s authority over space and body is constantly at stake, an unapologetic utilization of the feminist lens, as both disciplinary positioning and generative design device, serves as a means to confront and redefine architecture’s relationship with body. The work of feminists within the discipline of architecture and beyond provide crucial precedents for reclaiming the subjectivity of the female body through a spectrum of subversive misuse.
While cultural and societal roles of the woman in the home has existed for a long period of time prior, the Cult of Domesticity introduced an explicit vernacular and attitude of interior living. Its emphasis of values launched a new chapter in the narrative of domesticity, of the home, in which now the woman plays a completely aestheticized, orchestrated role within the space she occupied. Running parallel to this history of the domestic interior is the emergence and interiorization of the bathroom as an essential architecture. The bathroom, and subsequent realms of sanitation, developed in close proximity to regimes of power, race, and class. The notion of a second bathroom becoming a status symbol, hired help coming in to clean and sanitize a space deemed taboo by the upper classes. We now live in very specific moment in the history of the bathroom, one that elevates the notion of commodified wellness. Corporations push the idea of the bathroom as sanctuary, particularly to young women, marketing and capitalizing on “self care”: light your candles, grab your merlot, put on your moisturizing sheet mask and unwind from the long, arduous day.
Investigating a portrait of American Domesticity, the traditional Levittown Cape Cod home emerges as problematic, fraught with gendered spaces and wholly constructed binaries. These are spaces where women are rendered invisible on multiple levels, including representations of labor and aestheticization. This thesis acknowledges and subsequently rejects an architectural past of gendered spaces and projects an intersectional domesticity. Utilizing a core of feminist theory, the notion of “personal as political,” the Levittown home will embody and encapsulate the subjectivity of the body in a charged context, and ultimately exist as a bathroom. In this strategy of bathroom-as-house/houseas- bathroom, architectural elements are merged and radically redefined with bathroom objects to create bodily conditions that disrupt the canon of domesticity in which Levittown was birthed. This new domesticity provides a spectrum of intense misbehavior, resulting in typologies of both/and as opposed to either/or.
Winders, Hannah, "Can you shut the door? : exploring the personal as political in the domestic bathroom" (2019). Masters Theses. 404.
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