Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space

Altering Practices

Julia Dwyer (2007), 'Evaluating Matrix: notes from inside the collective' in Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space, Doina Petrescu (ed.), London: Routledge.

Dwyer (and Thorne’s) chapter in Petrescu’s collection of essays addressing and defining contemporary social-political theories and practices of space, continues to develop their discourse on the gender-based production of space, and ways of making it more socially sustainable.

Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space is the only evaluative history of the London-based cooperative design practice Matrix, which closed in the early 1990s. The theoretical and practice-based critique of architecture from a feminist perspective activated by Matrix, and the group’s unique influence on a range of architects and designers, is documented in its book Making Space: women and the man-made environment (1984). Well-publicised in the architectural press of the 1980s, only partial histories of Matrix existed, and Dwyer’s chapter (with Thorne) is of both historical interest and contemporary relevance.

Evaluating Matrix was first configured as a paper presented to the international Alterities conference at ENSBA, Ecole d’Architecture Paris, 1999, which is where both the Altering Practices book and the artist-architect group Taking Place were conceived. Post-conference, an interview with Dwyer (and Thorne) was published as ‘The Sensitivity of the Viewer, the Sensitivity of the User’ in Radio Temporaire at Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble, 2002 (ISBN 2-906732-74-5). Further developments from Dwyer (and Thorne’s) original paper include presentation at the Architecture au Feminin conference, Ecole d’Architecture Paris in 2000, convened by ARVHA, the feminist contemporary architecture web resource (with whom Dwyer worked on the EU-funded, RIBA-supported Discovering Contemporary Architecture CD).