Session 3: Reconfiguring Home and Gender

Some Thoughts on Architecture and Intimacy by Hilde Heynen

The ideology of the home is very strongly present in Western culture, as in many others. Since the 19th century this ideology associates home with a female presence, with nurturing and care, with families. These conceptions translate into specific architectural patterns that dominate the landscape of domesticity: homes are supposed to contain at least a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, a master bedroom and possibly some additional bedrooms. Homes thus can be seen as petrifying and eternalizing the heterosexual matrix, which assumes that families consist of father, mother and children. Material feminists and queer activists have long been arguing that alternative patterns need to be accommodated. This proves to be difficult in a world where real estate logics, planning codes and legal frameworks are favoring the status quo. The lecture will address the gendered features of the home and will give a brief overview of architectural experiments that question the suitability of the dominant model.


Hilde Heynen (BE, °1959) is a professor of architectural theory at the University of Leuven, Belgium. Her research focuses on issues of modernity, modernism and gender in architecture. In Architecture and Modernity. A Critique (MIT Press, 1999) she investigated the relationship between architecture, modernity and dwelling. She also engaged with the intersection between architecture and gender studies, resulting in the volume Negotiating Domesticity. Spatial productions of gender in modern architecture (co-edited with Gulsum Baydar, Routledge, 2005). She co-edited the Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory (with Greig Crysler and Stephen Cairns), which was published in 2012. She regularly publishes in journals such as Home Cultures, The Journal of Architecture, Interiors, etc. Hilde Heynen studied architecture and philosophy at the University of Leuven, where she also received her PhD. She was a J Paul Getty postdoctoral fellow, a research fellow at the Radcliffe Institute (Harvard University), and held visiting positions at MIT (Cambridge, Mass.), at the AA-school (London) and at RMIT (Melbourne). She is currently president of the European Architectural History Network (EAHN).