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Loire Valley Castle and Kitchen Factory: How the First Women Architects Work
Loire Valley Castle and Kitchen Factory: How the First Women Architects Work

We all know perfectly well that these days the statement “there are no women architects” is a complete lie. Zaha Hadid, Odile Dekk, Kazue Sejima … But it was false both in the Renaissance and in England in the 17th century. Officially, women won the right to design buildings on a par with men only in the twentieth century, but in reality this struggle began many centuries ago …

Katherine Brisonne is the first among the first

Chenonceau Castle

During the Renaissance, the life of a lady of noble birth was not limited to embroidery, playing music and prayers. In this wonderful, but turbulent time, women could lead the defense of the castle, like the Italian Catarina Sforza, and … its construction - like the Frenchwoman Catherine Brisonne. In 1512, her husband, Thomas Boye, purchased the ancient Chenonceau castle in the Loire Valley and decided to rebuild it in accordance with the newfangled trends. However, the post of general treasurer of the royal army did not allow him to engage in the construction of the castle, and all the worries fell on Catherine. She managed to come up with the exterior of the castle, combining motifs of French Gothic and Italian Renaissance, and an impressive staircase leading to the second floor, and a number of other architectural solutions. Boye never returned home until the construction was completed - he died in Italy in 1924, and three years later Catherine was gone, never having time to enjoy family happiness in the house she created.

Plautilla Bricci - Renaissance woman

Villa Benedetti

Roman Plautilla Bricci was born in 1616. She lived for almost ninety years - and although little is known about her creative path, the surviving works show how great the talent of this woman is. Her father appears to have been a painter or successful artisan, and her brother was also involved in architecture. For some time it was believed that she only helped men - she was engaged in decoration, "embellishment", as befits a woman. However, thanks to the discovered contracts and sketches signed with Plautilla's name, it became clear that she had independently designed Villa Benedetti (now it has a different name - Villa del Vashello). The architectural solution of this villa, created for Abbot Elpidio Benedetti, is so peculiar that researchers compare it with much later Art Nouveau buildings, and the creative style of Bricci herself with the favorite techniques of Hector Guimard.

Church of San Luigi dei Francesi Chapel of Saint Louis

The progressive abbot, it seems, wanted to hide the fact that he had given such a responsible order to a woman, but soon he openly entrusted her with the work on the chapel of St. Louis in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. She also painted the altarpiece depicting Saint Bricci on her own. She is also credited with the chapel of St. Benedict in Rome.

Elizabeth Wilbraham is a mystery to historians

Drawing attributed to Lady Wilbraham

Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham is associated with a story worthy of the pen of Dan Brown. Officially, using her status and wealth, she patronized many architects - and she herself actively studied architecture. However, researcher John Millar has devoted half a century to finding evidence that Lady Wilbraham was in fact the creator of many of the structures attributed to male architects.In seventeenth-century England, a woman of her origin could not engage in construction - it was simply unthinkable, and the authors recognized the people to whom she transferred the supervision of construction.

Wotton House

There is a version that it was this woman who gave lessons to the architect Christopher Wren. Millar believes that Lady Wilbraham was involved in the creation of twelve private homes and eighteen churches, but primarily his research is related to her participation in the construction of Wotton House in Buckinghamshire.

Marion Mahoney Griffin - in the shadow of a genius

Drawing by Marion Mahoney

Frank Lloyd-Wright is undoubtedly one of the most important architects of the twentieth century, the founder of the organic style in architecture and the "prairie school". Equally credit for the creation of a new direction in architecture belongs to Marion Mahoney Griffin - his colleague and one of the first licensed women architects in the world.

Drawing by Marion Mahoney. On the left is the signature

For fifteen years at Wright's studio, Marion has been designing buildings, furniture, stained glass windows and decorative panels. The stunning watercolors that have become an integral part of the Prairie School style were created by her hand. She subsequently directed architectural projects that Wright refused. Around 1910, the architect Walter Griffin invited her to develop a landscaping project near one of his buildings.

Drawing by Marion Mahoney Drawing by Marion Mahoney

They got married a year later and worked together for over a quarter of a century. The couple actively promoted the idea of ​​organic architecture in India and Australia. Their largest project is the Canberra urban plan. In Australia, Mahoney and Griffin became acquainted with anthroposophy and the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, which they embraced with enthusiasm, and in Sydney they joined the Society for Anthroposophy and sometimes gave public lectures on these ideas. After the death of her husband, Marion created a multi-page work describing their entire creative path - the work was digitized in 2007. The Australian Institute of Architects has established the Marion Mahoney Griffin Award for Women Architects.

Ekaterina Maksimova against kitchen slavery

Kitchen factory project

Ekaterina Maksimova, the first famous woman architect in the USSR, a representative of constructivism, participated in the design of the Kazansky railway station in Moscow.

The building of the Kazan railway station

During her short life - a little more than forty years - she created many highly topical works, unfortunately, not embodied or preserved. Most of her heritage is made up of projects of kitchen factories, the most interesting of which was built in Samara. Its kitchen factories were supposed to provide workers with food and at the same time relieve the heavy burden of living from women.

Factory kitchen in Samara

In terms of the kitchen factory in Samara, it was a stylized hammer and sickle, but this shape was dictated by the pure rationalism and conveyor nature of the work of the cooks, the movements of visitors and employees were ideally thought out, the areas for eating were zoned, and the facade was equipped with tape windows from floor to ceiling …

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