Cities for Women, Cities for All

“Do we see a street as somewhere we belong to? Does the area where I live have sufficient services and diversity? Does the public network consider my needs?” These are only a few of the questions posed at the breakfast leadership event with Zaida Muxi Martinez, coordinator of the Masters Program in 21st Century Sustainable Housing at the Barcelona School of Architecture. These questions reevaluate public space, facilities, and mobility through the lens of a woman and her needs, and the topic of gender-based planning. Take, for example, this question: “Can I walk to my day-to-day needs?” I’m asking about the security of the area for a woman day and night, pedestrian-friendly traffic, and the crossing speed at a stoplight for a woman with a stroller and toddlers. All of us experience public spaces, such as parks, sidewalks, and street crossings. Often, we take the public places where we are most comfortable for granted. When we are not at ease we are more observant. We become aware that the sidewalk is too narrow, the park is too dark to traverse alone, the street crossing is very wide with very little time to cross.

Martinez presented the work of Collectiu Punt 6, a women’s collective that researches and works for more equal and inclusive cities. The lecture raised questions about the psychological aspects of design, and how they relate to women and public space specifically. Of course, the needs of women everywhere differ based on their personality, culture, and metropolitan lifestyle. But it’s an interesting topic to explore. Martinez teaches the subject of gender-based planning in Barcelona, Spain. What public spaces would a New York City woman define as safest or most pedestrian-friendly? Would Park Slope in Brooklyn be a perfect archetype of a woman- and stroller-friendly neighborhood?

Marvine Pierre, Assoc. AIA, is an architectural designer at Kohn Pedersen Fox, and a contributing writer to e-Oculus. She is also a member of the Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) Committee.

Event: Breakfast Leadership with Zaida Muxi Martinez: Cities for Women Cities for All
Location: Center for Architecture, 04.03.14
Speaker: Zaida Muxi Martinez, Coordinator, Masters Program in 21st Century Sustainable Housing, Barcelona School of Architecture
Organizers: AIANY Women in Architecture Committee