The Social Construction of Gender

Gender design, un-noticeably everything around us has become specifically gendered. Branded spaces exhibit smells, colours and even lighting adjustments to appeal to a preference of gender. The question that now arises is, what specifically is defined as male and female and who of which determine these definitions Beauvoir (1949) says “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman…  it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature… which is described as feminine”. How did gender design become so specific, how were colours like blue and pink designated to male and female respectively. There has always been a segregation between genders, an example that comes to mind when thinking of the differences in responsibilities and status is among the architectural design world itself. A title of empowerment was often suggested for men. Design was a largely male dominated industry; it become common amongst all design sectors, but was especially visible amongst architects. Zaha Hadid, a recognisable woman for her incredible, talent and shear persistence to become a successful ‘Starchitect’- a term of which refers to architects who have a critical acclaim and have become idols amongst the architect world. She was initially recognised for her fantastic original sketches which began as of what could be classed as absurd and then developed into some of the most extreme architectural builds. Hadid is one of the only women to have won as many awards within the architectural sector and was a proven fact of how women can succeed. She proved to women that they are able to make a difference among the design world, they can create their own brand and stand strong on their own two feet. It can be said that “It’s a man’s world with one women” Booth (2016). It can be thought to be thankful that women started to contribute more to the design sector as there were design flaws amongst some masculine approaches to architecture. During the modernist era, designs lacked functionality for women and children. Women were faced with large industrial stairs of which they had to manipulate with their prams, practicality of these issues were just not addressed during design development. Men designed buildings with out thinking of aspects that women will struggle to manipulate around. This lecture made me think that we segregate far too much amongst a community, we give names to areas that have no relevance. For example, what’s to say women can’t wear blue and men can’t wear pink.


Beauvoir, S.D. (1949) The Second Sex. Trans. and ed. HM Parshley. New York: Knopf.

Booth, R. (2016) Architects speak out about industry sexism in tributes to Zaha Hadid, Guardian. Available at: (Accessed: 18 April 2016)

Sparke, P. (1995) As long as it’s pink: The sexual politics of taste. United Kingdom: Pandora

Zaha Hadid Architects, (2016) Zaha Hadid Architects Available at: (Accessed: 16 April 2016)


Narrative Design

“Narrative seems to be one of the main ways we construct our personal and group identities and how we get a picture of time. Combining stories with spaces brings together mind and body and offers endless creative possibilities for producing memorable human experience.” Tricia Austin CSM lecturer. Every individual interprets their own narrative, it can depend on emotions, pathways taken and many other factors. Spatial narrative is determined by architectural alignments and styles. Buildings relay many stories even those that are not visible. Stories of the Architects thought process, Stories of what existed before and now. The contribution of a persons own underlying story allows them to facilitate the narrative in their own way. As Peter Zumthor states “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” Zumthor (2006, P. 17) our own perspective of situations and designs can be contributed to by the surrounding environment, but everyone is each to their own. Whether buildings along a street have a stylistic connection or juxtapose from the surrounding façade they have an impressionable affect. Each create a visual connection of which contributes to the narrative of the street scape. When a place forms a particular narrative within a person it creates links to memorable information. “A ‘Sense of place’ the subjective and emotional attachment people have to place.” Cresswell (2004) arguably place is formed by the narrative impressions it has had among someone. They create mnemonic associations with the place from the way the space was interpreted before. I believe the narrative of architecture has much more depth and meaning when there is evidence of ‘palimpsest’ within the roots of the building. Palimpsest “Something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of it’s earlier form” Oxford Dictionary (2003) The layers show historical and cultural values which can be interpreted in many ways, they provide evidence of previous existence, and a basis for imaginary information.

The above image shows how a city can have various historical and cultural stories throughout the streets. St Pauls cathedral a medieval renaissance building designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren and completed construction in the 1711 is a remarkable landmark of the city. Directly to the east of the cathedral we see the eight-storey shopping and office complex, with staggering contrasting panels of thermo glass, the narrative within one photo is exceptional. The contrast of a modern shopping complex which inhabits various peoples’ stories against a beautifully crafted cathedral with years of history.


Cresswell, T., 2013. Place: A short introduction. John Wiley & Sons.

Urban 75 blog. (2011) Lesser known London viewpoints: the dramatic view from One New Change, St Pauls. Available at: (Accessed: 13 April 2016)

Zumthor, P. (2006) Atmospheres: Architectural Environments-Surrounding Objects Switzerland: Birkhaüser


Designing for the application of anti-terrorism can be an arguable subject. Some believe that architects and cities should not conform with society threats. However, I think the idea of inclusive design, with the completion of purpose and creating an aesthetic function for the city is a more effective way of designing. There is no denying that terrorism is happening around us, it is an unfortunate and scary situation that is inevitable, why not create barriers which eliminate/minimise possible attacks. The RIBA have initiated proposals for architects and other designers to ensure correct consideration of counter-terrorism is included within their future design briefs for public access buildings and public open spaces. Ruth Reed, RIBA president comments that “The need to deliver good design that creates a sense of security without a siege of mentality” is an important design category during this current society. She also mentions how we are an inclusive society and interpreting these new requirements to our buildings eliminates, highlighting the intense security measures that surround, and can quite frankly be un-nerving (RIBA, 2010)

Cabot Circus, Bristol is an urban regeneration scheme in the heart of Bristol, that aimed to take the influence from out of town shopping centres back into the city. During the design process it was highlighted that areas of counter-terrorism need to be addressed to ensure the creation of a safer environment into the heart of the city. High risk areas were identified among the design plans and were specifically resolved. A central public space which was contained under a large glass canopy was positioned in the centre of three converging streets. To resolve this direct access anti hostile vehicle furniture was introduced onto the end of streets to become indestructible pillars that stop any vehicle access. Surrounding side streets were also re-aligned to ensure that direct lines to public spaces were in-achievable. Both of these methods minimise vehicular access, creating a safer environment. Whilst among the shopping centre all of these considerations are un-noticeable to the public eye, consumers feel within a safe environment with no obtrusive barriers and security measures. The bunker mentality can cause exclusion it can minimise access to public spaces and create fear and segregation. The question this all leads down to is why wouldn’t we design for aesthetically pleasing multi-functional uses, that are applicable for counter terrorism? It creates a better community feel amongst public spaces and also avoids vulnerability for attacks. In my mind this is undoubtedly a good design factor. It Lowers insecurity and provides an aesthetic finish among streets.


Royal Institute of British Architects (2010) Guidance on designing for counter-terroism London: RIBA

Sensory Design

During our lecture on sensory design, a lot of attention was paid to how elitist architects incorporate sensuous phenomena, this got me thinking about the spaces we are constantly interacting with, the branded spaces amongst the city and how they incorporate Pallasmaas (2012) ideas of sensory design. Retail Branded spaces through means of spatial configuration, sensuous stimulators and branding identity influence the way people respond to the brand and the process of which you move through the space. Unconsciously we are all encompassed with various methods of sensory design, whether they control the way we consume the products or the way we indulge in their specificity.

“Architecture reflects, materialises and eternalises ideas and images of ideal life” Pallasmaa (2012, p. 76). Borges (2013) book on branded spaces explains how consumers become enticed through advanced expectations of brand associations. Elite brands create a realm that becomes irresistible to consumers. Apple stores, pay careful attention to their branding elements to ensure a coherent feel amongst the store and upon the products. Through strategically composing unique experiences for their customers’ apple keep its retail process in alliance with its marketing intentions. Apples branded strategy focuses on the creation of systematic emotions, these selected branded emotions are lifestyle, imagination and aspirations. All of these link with the factors of brand identification, how we as consumers idealise the brand amongst ourselves and within our lives. The idea of simplicity amongst all products, and branded environments refers to the removal of complexity from consumers’; ‘The annotation that using an apple product will create an easier life for the consumer’.

Apple stores have a design pattern that occurs throughout the stores. The element of organisation is strong throughout. There is a clear open plan layout situated within the store, creating open visibility and clear accessibility. An emphasis is created among apple products through a minimalistic approach. Consumers are inspired to interact with all elements of the products, tables are featured at a suitable height to ensure pro-active interaction and reveal the full beauty. The idea of an in-store relationship creates the aspiration to become amongst the brand identity. From metal to wood and glass they use the materials in a sophisticated manner, materials appeal to the visual and touch sensory stimuli, Apple create obligations to to feel the the finish amongst the tables or the great satisfaction that is gathered when looking at the complete beauty of aesthetic finish, ‘The idealised apple finish’. Similar to Peter Zumthor they acknowledge the importance of an aesthetic finish and material influence “Atmosphere is an aesthetic category” Zumthor (2006 p. 7) Each individual store is contained amongst its own architectural perfection. A personal favourite of mine is The Covent Garden apple store which is among a grade 2 listed building, the revealed raw brickwork among structural arches inspires touch through the contrast against the rest of the store, the English oak tables and the 2 storey glass spiralled staircase. The clean minimal interior creates an imagination amongst the consumer of an ideal work space. A heightened experience is created through exaggerated ceilings of which create a bodily identification that wishes for exploration. The desiring products around are made to create an imaginative experience that can adapt the consumers’ identification with themselves and lifestyle. It is questionable whether the subconscious sensory experience that we are exhibited too within the store is a good implication or a manipulative one? By creating this phenomenon throughout we are being manipulated to represent ourselves with the brand. (reference) consumerism, we no longer by stuff for the need we consume for the want and association with said brand. Although I think sensory design application is great for creating an incorporative experience it will remain in question whether this should be applied to our own retail branded spaces where consumption can greater or if it is better among those schools and hospitals to provide better learning and healing environments.


Borges, S. (2013) Branded Spaces, Branded Architecture and the Furture of Retail Design. Berlin: Gestalten

Pallasmaa, J. (2009) The thinking hand: Existential and embodied wisdom in architecture. United Kingdom: Wiley, John & Sons.

Pallasmaa, J. (2012) The Eyes Of The Skin, Architecture and the senses. United Kingdom: Wiley, John & Sons.

Zumthor, P. (2006) Peter Zumthor Atmospheres. Switzerland: Birkhauser

Zumthor, P. (2006) Peter Zumthor Thinking Architecture. expanded edition. Switzerland: Birkhauser

Biophilic Design

Sustainability- the endurance of systems and processes. Sustainable design is an important factor among architectural design, high attention and consideration should be paid to the design element to create effective design implications which in the long run will improve the environment. Biophilic design, is a design method that is influenced by natural forms and materials. This design method introduces the natural world surrounding us into areas of design, this can be through the introduction of plant materials, through associative shapes or increased access to natural light. Oliver Heath is an expert among the field of sustainable architectural and interior design. He highlights the importance of health and well being and how positive adjustments can be implemented among the built environment. Heath (no-date) During a presentation at the surface design show, Oliver discussed the relevance of creating a healthier space to live and work in. He discusses how a ‘human centred’ approach increases 90% of the typical operating costs throughout a company. By creating significant changes amongst the working environment there is a noticeable adjustment in productivity and creativity. Sustainable design is an important factor among society nowadays. I believe that in order to replicate the idea of good design, there should be attention given to the sustainable functioning of the environments. Biophilc design is a simple effective way of improving health and well being and creating a better functioning environment.

This also got me thinking about other design methods that resolve environmental issues. I had read an article a few weeks ago, that discusses a very interesting idea. The “First amphibious house, can float on floodwater like a boat on a dock” Winston (2014) This ambitious house has been designed to rise with the water and to adjust to flood levels on the Thames, the architects were chosen due to the extensive knowledge they already had within the area. They had been working on projects involving Long-term initiatives for flood-risk environments. Richard Coutts Baca co-founder explains that “During the flood event the whole house will raise gently like a boat and will keep all of the habitable spaces safe above the flood level,” Winston (2014) this clever sustainable solution responded too issues of overcrowding and provides a solution for those who are unfortunate to be designated in a high-flood risk area. I very much recommend reading this article as it highlights how the construction of the house implements the changes in response to adjustments in water levels and expresses some interesting points among architectural design.


Oliver Heath Design. (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 16 March 2016)

Surface Design Show. (2014) Available at: (Accessed: 16 March 2016)

Winston, A. (2014) Deezen, Uk’s “first amphibious house” can float on flood water like a boat in a dock. Available at: (Accessed: 16 March 2016)