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Editorial: multiple masculinities

The March issue challenges masculinity and all its contradictions

Helene binet last page architectural review

Helene binet last page architectural review

Source: Hélène Binet, courtesy of Ammann Gallery

From Vitruvius to Corbusier to Neufert, building proportions are so heavily based on the white, male, able body that discrimation against anyone else is inscribed into our built culture. Amid arbitrary scales and subconscious biases, the ‘feminine male’ is considered a ‘genius’ – the characteristic profile of the average Pritzker Prize winner. 

Looking beyond binary gender divisions, reductive models, harmful norms and singular ideals, this issue features the renamed W Awards and examines the ways that masculinities are generated and performed within architecture and the city – from testosterone-spiked gymnasiums to the plane’s cockpit, and from giant monuments to the intimacy of the delivery room.

What role does architecture play in the constructionof masculinity? Parallels are drawn between buildings and bodies, their identities fluid, their intentions queer. At times androgynous, the body becomes an allegorical construction site while the building is depicted as soft and permeable, an expression of gender through cladding, programme and performance. 

Speaking about masculinities recognises the ambiguities, multiplicities and evolving identities of gender. It helps us to unpack normative conventions, tear down an old order and build new structures of support.

Lead image: The winners of this year’s W Awards will receive a trophy created by last year’s Ada Louise Huxtable Prize winner Hélène Binet, continuing a tradition begun in 2019 by Madelon Vriesendorp. This year’s trophies take the form of photographs from Binet’s Levitation series, which capture the angels of Ponte Sant’Angelo in Rome. They were carefully chosen in collaboration with the AR editorial team at Binet’s studios in London. Taking as inspiration her preoccupation with photography ‘you can hold in your hands’, the photographs are objects, Diasec-mounted and supported on small wooden stands

This piece is featured in the AR March 2020 issue on Masculinities + W Awards – click here to buy your copy today