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THE DRAWING BOARD AU FÉMININ. WOMEN ARCHITECTS IN COMMUNIST ROMANIA

THE DRAWING BOARD AU FÉMININ.
WOMEN ARCHITECTS IN COMMUNIST ROMANIA

text: Ana Maria ZAHARIADE

UAUIM terrace

(First published in „Ideological Equals: Women Architects in Socialist Europe 1945-1989”, editat de Mary Pepchinski, Mariann Simon, Routledge, 2016)

Months ago, when first considering this paper, I wrote that the active involvement and significant contribution of women to Romanian architecture was a Pyrrhic victory, despite their increasing number in the profession and the conditions offered by “socialist equality and equity”. Recent studies concur in pronouncing the failure of gender equality during Communism, a downfall that ultimately meant unprecedented humiliations and additional burdens for all women.
Searching for specific arguments, I revisited the architectural life of that period—and started to hesitate… Memories came flooding back, resurrecting facts, names, circumstances, anecdotes… Yet these recollections were dominated by the perception that I have been the peer of my male confrères ever since I entered architecture school at the end of the 1960s. I feel the same today. I started to wonder whether this sentiment reflects my personal fortune, an illusion, perhaps, or is a reality with a larger validity? And, if the latter is true, how could this be explained in a traditionally male profession and in a deeply ingrained, patriarchal society? Were women-architects the success story of the regime? Seeking answers to these questions became the guiding thread of my research (that I hope to continue).

The scope of this paper is not to present women architects as an illustration of the situation of all women under Communism, but to uncover the professional circumstances in which they evolved and to consider their relevance for the history of the profession. Consequently, this is neither a feminist approach with the goal of examining society under Communism, nor a historical restitution of prominent female personalities and of the buildings they designed.
This paper tries to assess the situation of women architects during that period, and to shed new light on the alleged equality that they enjoyed, thus unveiling the behind-the-scenes realities that local professional life engendered. ‘The drawing board au féminin’ is rather an empathic history, where numbers and percentages are complemented by subjective recollections and hypotheses in a quest for a more nuanced portrayal of women architects in communist Romania.

Genus-Differentia. Simply women.
It is unreasonable to speak about the woman architect outside the limits of her genus proximus. In late medieval Romanian society, profoundly patriarchal and predominantly rural, a woman remained ‘a step behind the man’. Folklore always locates a woman in a secondary position, downplaying her manifestations no matter which role she plays. It is probably not by chance that in one Romanian founding myth the feminine presence, a sort of a Moira, is a young ewe, a symbol of subservience. Closer to architecture, the few women of high standing who founded monasteries and churches were less visible than the legendary Ana, whose fate was to be sacrificed for the glory of her master-builder husband’s masterpiece, the Monastery Church of Curtea de Argeș.
The process of modernization during the second half of the 19th century triggered woman’s emancipation in Romania. Among other concomitant pressures, the Western feminist ethos, which was especially influential in the upper strata of the society, succeeded in articulating a coherent discourse that disturbed the old order. Although it espoused gender equality for all, for the most part, feminism remained a movement of the elite.
Specific differentiation. Belonging to the guild
The architectural profession emerged at this time, and architects forged a new professional identity, calling themselves a guild.1 Even today they cherish this collective distinction and continue to use it. This detail—which I have not encountered anywhere else in Western professional literature—played a particular role in determining the situation of women architects under Communism.
We should be careful: this means of identification had nothing to do with architecture seen as techne, or a craft. On the contrary, this new type of practitioner and this novel professional organization forced the public—who were not accustomed to working with architects—to accept the distinctiveness of this caste. Thus, the foreign architects who designed the nation’s first modern government buildings and the Romanian architects (initially educated in Paris, and later in Bucharest2) who continued this endeavour under a shared esprit de corps, and contributed their individual reputations to the prestige of the group and to this alien profession.
Nor should we be deluded by this caste’s cohesion: it was not programmatic. Certainly, their common professional background warranted their unity and was essential to their modernizing ethos, while the promise of abundant commissions helped to unify them, despite stylistic contradictions. Architecture was a growing profession and, the Romanians were asserting themselves and developing rapidly.
The guild’s membership was relatively small (approximately 400 architects in 1944), and was comprised of a well-off urban bourgeoisie with intellectual and artistic aspirations, to whom the occasional heirs of aristocratic families added credibility and cachet. Architects, along with scholars, writers, artists, high-ranking public servants, the wealthy bourgeoisie, politicians, and members of the old aristocracy joined the modern meritocratic elite of this period.3 Within this intellectual milieu, architects created a distinctive public image for themselves, a combination of aristocratic manners and unconventional behaviour, which they uniformly embraced. Confident but relaxed, classy but democratic, elegant but casual and artistic, this look was an “ideal construction”. It became a “norm”, a recognizable image, publicly performed and continuously reiterated, defining a new “fraternity”, that was acknowledged by society and adopted by this group as a mark of distinction.
The first women entered the School of Architecture in Bucharest (the only one in the country till 1990) in the second decade of the 20th century.4 Although architecture was male-dominated field, women were accepted. Generally, those who pursued architecture were emancipated and received an education in an uninhibited milieu that was in close contact with local and European cultural and artistic movements. These women enjoyed a special status inside their genus; one can say that their professional group protected them and accepted them as equal members. The guild was sort of a laboratory of gender equality.
My emphasis on the circumstances that gave rise to the first women architects is neither nostalgic, nor does it premeditate a comparison of professional conditions prior to and during Communism. I draw attention to this situation because the women who studied architecture prior to 1948 experienced a radical change of regime and were also the first generation of women architects to be active under Communism, where they had exemplary careers. They were not ghosts of a bygone moment of gender emancipation, either before or after World War 2, and they were certainly not the ghosts of modernism; they were active and recognized professionals.5 Most of all, they embodied a self-confidence that was acquired in the guild. Their example laid the foundation for what would follow.
Women Architects Under Communism: Feminine desire for architecture
Between the 1920s and the start of World War 2, the number of young women who studied architecture rose steadily, yet it is difficult to say what motivated them. Architecture (and the glamour of the guild) was appealing but, after 1945, it became more attractive for women with artistic dispositions or an interest in the humanities. At this time, the number of places for students in the fine arts academies was reduced and the liberal arts became highly ideological. Because the communist regime needed architects, it was possible to study this subject and then to find a secure job in tough times.

Whatever the reason, their presence increased dramatically. Research in the archives of the School of Architecture in Bucharest reveals an increasing percentage of women graduates between 1945 and 1990, on average more than 40% of a given year.6

Fig. 1: Number of women compared to the total number of graduates (1945-1989)
Fig. 2: Percentage of women among the graduates (1945-1989)

Between 1945 and 1953 more than 250 women graduated as architects. They were admitted in the School before the Education Act of 1948, when admission policies discriminated against the middle and upper classes of the pre-war period and academia became infused with political ideology. Yet the presence of women students remained strong even after, although the overall number grew, indicating the increased need for architects to design the huge number of buildings anticipated by the State-Plans (especially high in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The proportion of women graduates was also consistently high (more than 50% in some years). With such ratios in mind, one can hardly speak of a feminine inhibition when confronted with the leap into the unknown that architecture requires; or maybe the leap was less adventurous under that society than it is in contemporary liberal economies.7
In the same archives we find another means to measure the success of women students: their academic performance. Honours (awarded until 1950) and the highest grades given for the diploma (9 and 10, until 1989) are meaningful in this respect.

Figure 3 shows this evolution based on the data that is available in the archives of the School. Thus, in 1945, one of the two female graduates was awarded a Magna cum laude, one of three such distinctions that were handed out that year.8 She was not an exception. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, proportionally more honours degrees went to women than to men. Likewise, after the elimination of honours (a bourgeois distinction), the highest grades were conferred equally to women and men.

Fig. 3: Percentage of women among the total number of honours and high marks recipients (1945-1989)

My arithmetic fervour could seem an inference à these, but it does not intend to demonstrate feminine superiority; a conclusion based on such small numbers would be highly suspect. Even if the two are related, these statistics reveal the achievement of female students who hailed from diverse social backgrounds. Committed and confident, they appear to have surpassed gender inhibitions and do not seem to have experienced discrimination. An ideal image of gender equality!

Considering that the professors were overwhelmingly male, these statistics are intriguing. For instance, immediately after World War 2, only a few part-time women lecturers taught at this school. By in 1972, out of 120 faculty members, there were 23 women (19.1%), most of them from the generation that had graduated around 1960. In the years that followed, their presence grew considerably. This might make us suspect ideological interference. What if this ideal condition was merely the result of positive discrimination on the part of obliging professors who treated their female students preferentially in order to report a nominal, albeit illusory, gender equality? It is possible, yet very unlikely. Such ‘party directives’ would have surfaced in the annual reports, as it was customary for political directives. Until now, nothing of the kind has been found. There is no mention of gender statistics, which only means that this did not matter per se. Moreover, in Romania, where gossip is a habitus (as is indiscretion), the need for this information would have been disseminated by word of mouth. Furthermore, no such stories have been retained among the anecdotes (otherwise very rich) that students have handed down over the years.

The usual discrimination legends reference rather benign instances: projects by beautiful students received inflated grades, women professors were less severe with the men in their classroom, or a young woman’s highly accomplished projects were actually designed by her boyfriend (the idea that good architecture is a male endeavour was, however, floating in the air!). Maybe these contained small bits of truth, but in such low doses that they were exceptions in a prevailing atmosphere of fine collegiality. Nevertheless, collegiality did not exclude the courtesy exhibited towards women on the part of male professors (rather an anachronistic custom under Communism). There were very few cases of what today would be called sexual harassment.
The guild is dead; long live the guild
This idyllic image of architecture school, a place where gender equality was rampant and women enjoyed the perfect conditions to bloom into architects certainly came as a surprise. As a witness of that period, I am amazed when looking back. At the time I used to consider this absolutely normal; the contrary would have been unimaginable. Today, when studies document various gender inequalities in other fields, it is natural to be incredulous and inquire into this particular state of affairs, and to search for clarifications.
My explanation belongs to the fluid realm of group dynamics. Here imprecision and the force of signification lead to collective values that empowered each member and protected them in times of hardship. The communist regime radically transformed the existing professional institutions after 1945, leaving very little room for architects to participate in these decisions. Marginalized as group and individually threatened, they resisted by preserving the common identity as members of the guild. This anachronism had to be performed and disseminated. Thus the school of architecture became the guild’s place of apprenticeship, and the time spent there, an exceptional experience, acquired profound meaning. I shall use the word studenthood to label this period, but the German Studentendasein characterises it better as a genuine rite of passage, and not just a moment in time.

Despite the ideological restrictions that prevailed with varying intensity throughout this period, architecture school was a time of unusual freedom (certainly relative), a parallel world of professional and social adventure. Studenthood was passionately lived as a heterotopy with all the paraphernalia this involved, which rendered architecture school unique in the landscape of its’ time: the nights spent at the drawing board, the bizutage, (in persistently soft forms, the threat of penalties notwithstanding), the balls, the shows, the jazz, the elegant, unconventionally dressed students… This was a protected realm. Throughout this period, the professors kept the heterotopy alive. Unofficially they upheld a code of behaviour, which reinforced their identity as members of the guild. They also turned a blind eye to certain ‘ideological deviances’ (generally benign, but looking bold at the time), thus creating a (moderately) free and elitist atmosphere, which was admired and envied by all students in Romania.
Yet the heterotopy did not last forever. Every student was aware that the diploma was probably the last opportunity that they would have to indulge their creativity. In spite of the mandate to be practical, everyone let his/her imagination run free. After graduation, the group identity endured. As the incubator of the guild, the studenthood shaped this group and imparted its’ values, including gender equality.
Abnormal circumstances result in abnormal behaviours and permit abnormal explanations! Either as nostalgia for one’s youth or as a means of resistance, when replicated in the ensuing years, the memory of that time could explain the collegial attitudes between men and women that endured in architectural practice under Communism.
Career perspectives
In November 1952, private architectural practice was abolished. Older architects were given an assignment in one of the state owned ‘design-institutes’,9 and new graduates found a remunerated drawing board via the ‘placement procedure’. A list of design jobs was presented to them, and the freshly minted architect could choose a job in accordance with their ranking that was based on their grades. The position thus picked was mandatory for three years. Even after the end of this training period, transfers to other state offices were rarely approved and resignations were highly unusual because a change of employment drastically affected one’s ‘seniority rights’. Only the very unhappy or the very determined managed to relocate, and an architects’ professional life evolved within these constraints.

Thus, young women architects competed on an equal footing with their male colleagues for better assignments, taking into account the profile of certain institutes and their importance.10 They were not paid less than their male confreres, nor were the wages lower in certain design domains that were believed to be predominantly feminine. Consequently, depending on their academic standing and on the options available to them on the ‘placement list’, women laboured in all branches of architectural design.
Once they joined the workforce, they encountered a rigid and highly predicable professional structure. Most architects retired from the design institute that they had joined immediately after graduation. With wages automatically increasing according to one’s seniority and length of employment, immobility was reinforced and professional performance was not stimulated. With rare exceptions, men managed these institutions, probably due to the misogynist biases on the part of party officials. However, the hypothesis that women programmatically avoided direct contact with the crudeness of the political elite should not be rejected.
An autarkical stiffness dominated the state design institutes. In response to the government dictated (i.e. party dictated) investment policies, ‘planning institutions’ issued commissions that were ‘entrusted’ to certain ‘design-collectives’ (usually specialized design studios that were directed by politically trustworthy individuals). The ‘design-collectives’ had some leeway in selecting their employees; yet once an architect began working, the ambiguous relationship between authorship and completed object undermined any potential for creativity.
This was the generic model of an architectural career. In a context where the ‘investment in building activity’ (in the language of the epoch) was central to the economy, grosso modo, women and men enjoyed equal opportunities. The extent to which these circumstances were favourable to the production of architecture is not the focus of this paper.11 In any case, both men and women architects encountered the same possibilities and limitations while labouring in the large state offices.
Therefore it is hard to draw accurate conclusions concerning the affinity of women architects for certain projects, or to identify a specifically feminine approach to design. Architects were forced to adopt standardized plans and aggressive political interference compromised their work to such an extent that individual differences (including the gender ones) disappeared and uniformity reigned. Architects, men and women alike, obeying identical orders, authored similar buildings, and pursued analogous architectural approaches. However, the showcase projects of the time, with the exception of the resorts along the Black Sea coast,12 were rarely associated with women’s names. This leads us to wonder if their chances were really equal after all.
The visibility of women architects
Because research in the archives of the defunct state design institutes is almost impossible (the institutes have been privatized and their archives are inaccessible), the magazine Arhitectura is the most reliable source of information about this period. It remains a truthful mirror of that time, an impartial record of architectural design during Communism. Furthermore, it was the only public platform that bestowed any kind of professional recognition on individual practitioners.13
Scanning its pages, I tried to identify those markers capable of measuring the visibility of the drawing board au féminin. For example, the frequency of women architects mentioned as members of ‘design-collectives’ and as ‘chief designers’ (the latter term heralded authorship), the types of projects where women appeared as the chief designer, the incidence of women as authors of articles and their topics, their participation in competitions, the kinds of awards they received, and their general involvement in the professional community. Reading the magazine from this perspective turned out to be more meaningful than I expected, but the length of this paper allows for only a partial summary of these findings.14
1. As a rule, women appear in the ‘design-collectives’ and in the position of “chief designer’ in direct proportion to their growing numbers in the profession, yet their increase is always delayed, even until 1990. On average, women do not appear in the magazine (as authors of texts or as designers) in direct relation to the overall numbers in the profession. They made up only 25% of all contributors and architects who were mentioned, although they comprised 40% of all practitioners. Nonetheless there are also some issues with more women than men, and others with no feminine presence at all.
The first issues of Arhitectura include only a few women, and no women appear in four out of the first ten issues. At its inception, the magazine observed a policy of discreetness, probably for obscure political reasons; even the editorial board is anonymous until 1958. However, after 1955, the names of women occur with increasing frequency, depending on the building types presented, and there are noticeable variations from issue to issue.15 Starting with issue 6/1955, women are identified with their first names, while men (more numerous) are mentioned only with the initials of their first names. With few exceptions, after 1958, almost all the ‘design-collectives’ include women architects.

At the same time women-led design teams first appear16 in a few areas (housing, hospitals, schools, standardization, restoration), and later for a great variety of projects. Generally, the design teams were mixed, but all-women teams appear too, even until 1990. Married couples also become noticeable, teaming-up in certain ‘collectives’, or alternating in leading positions.17 The feminine presence grows, reaching its apex in the 1960s and 1970s.18 From a gender perspective their visibility is significant because the magazine’s emphasis was on buildings, not on architects. It also means that women architects were involved in the more prestigious projects of these decades.
Paradoxically, in the 1980s, when Anca Petrescu becomes Nicolae Ceaușescu’s favourite architect, the names of women become less frequent. In those years, the magazine ceased to reflect professional reality. Times were troubled, and the explanations are not simple. On the one hand, all public investment was channelled to ‘the great works of Ceaușescu’ that were enveloped in a paranoid veil of secrecy. The magazine avoids mention of those works; even Anca Petrescu is not acknowledged. Nor were the scores of women architects who had leading positions in the projects related to the vast reorganization of the “Civic Centre” of Bucharest. There were few buildings worth publishing; it was a bleak period, and the magazine’s main goal was to resist. On the other hand, the 1980s were years of extreme austerity and daily life was hard and degrading. Up to this time, compared to the average genus proximus, women architects were respected and even had some social status. During this decade, however, they melted into the general mass, sharing the same daily humiliations (lack of food, medicine, heating, clothes…). They, too, became drained and deprived of their differentia.
2. The magazine shows women architects involved in all types of projects: housing and related research, healthcare facilities, buildings for education, hotels (mainly on the Black Sea coast), urban design, urban research, and an array of commercial and industrial structures. Historic preservation, erroneously considered predominantly feminine, deserves closer scrutiny. Certainly, many women architects oversaw remarkable projects, but the magazine shows cumulatively more male architects involved in these fields during the communist period.19 Similarly, feminine contributions to architectural history were innovative, but were not considered to be more important than works by men.20

None of theses areas was predominantly feminine. Although men continued to be more numerous, the presence of women was consistently 30 to 40% in all areas of design. However, men were always identified as the authors of the few “flagship projects” and, with the exception of the vacation resorts on the Black Sea Coast, few women received notice for such prestigious buildings.21
3. A similar pattern emerges when considering the architectural competitions that were published in the magazine.22 The award-winning projects prove that women are capable of designing all types of building.23 Women obtained more awards for urban projects (12 women and 17 men in 2/1974; 8 women and 7 men in 1/1987) than for more obviously feminine programmes, such as dwellings for artists (5 women and 19 men in 4/1972) or hospitals. Women’s participation, however, is much weaker in the few international competitions.
4. The magazine also reveals how the profession bestowed recognition upon women architects. One measure is the honours for architectural excellence. Disregarding the State Prize that was awarded to leading figures in Romanian architecture24, awards were typically conferred on buildings and not given to their designers. Nonetheless, the magazine records the authors of these prize-winning objects. Beginning in the 1950s, women are listed as members of the design teams.25 After the establishment of the Annual Awards of the Union of Architects in the 1960s, women architects were nominated with increasing frequency, from time to time in almost equal numbers as their male-colleagues.26 However, women are rarely architectural competition jurors (a more personalized means of recognition), which might indicate reluctance on the part of those in power to involve them in such procedures.
5. At the same time, women architects appear with greater frequency as figures in the life of the architectural community. From 1950 to 1956, there are only four texts by women,27 while men (most of them professors, and probably in the good books of the regime) write the most important contributions and male ‘main-designers’ contribute essays about their own projects. A few years later, more women appear, first writing about their buildings, then describing the work of their colleagues and addressing theoretical issues. As women receive greater recognition, the opinions of individual women become more critical and complex, and they articulate original ideas, promote innovative designs, or explain their research.
By the end of the 1970s, a few young women architects have their own monthly columns,28 and two women join the editorial board in 1974 and 1987, respectively.29 They usher in a new approach, which is attentive to daily life, explores new areas of design (industrial, furniture, and landscape design) and looks beyond the traditional boundaries of architecture. One might suspect a feminine touch in this discreet shift. In my opinion it was rather the breath of a new generation, since many young men shared a similar état d’esprit and wrote strange “easy pieces” in revolt against the reality of the profession under late Communism. Nonetheless, the magazine reveals the presence of a type of woman architect who does not take her role for granted and enhances her professional reputation through writing, playing an active role, and by disseminating her ideas. She was also more authoritative, and the magazine was an arbiter of her opinions.
This brief summary cannot end before addressing two intriguing questions.

1. Did this (apparent) equality virilise the woman architect who was operating in a largely male context that was dominated by male role models? There is no simple answer. While the affinity of women for certain areas of design is not discernable, political control interfered with all individual creative freedom. Moreover, Romanian Communism valued force, not delicacy; hence modernism and a sort of brutalism prevailed on the drawing boards, no matter the gender.
2. Why are almost all the flagship projects of the period remembered as being designed by men? This contradicts the equality shown by my arithmetic. Actually, this is not really relevant for our topic. The flagship projects of the period (with the exception of the People’s House with Anca Petrescu as the “chief architect”) were built before 1970, and these designs were developed in the uppermost political strata; they did not follow established professional practice because they were “showcases”. These projects had to be designed by the lords of the Romanian architectural establishment, who inevitably were renowned men, with high connections. This leads us to the issue of women architects’ involvement in the political life of the period, but the information is meagre and further studies are needed.
Nevertheless, even when women architects were scarce, they received recognition for their architecture. Thus, in spite of her ‘unhealthy social origin’, Henriette Delavrancea-Gibory (a pioneer, acknowledged as an architectural force before the war) oversaw the design of the largest hospital in Romania. Sofia Ungureanu and Paraschiva Iubu (young leftist sympathizers) were acknowledged as preeminent designers. Later, Cleopatra Alifanti was charged with the design for the Commercial Academy in central Bucharest, Alexandra Florian was noted for her residential architecture, Anca Borgovan authored striking buildings on the southern Black Sea coast, and Ioana Grigorescu’s projects for Dragomirna and Sucevița were exemplary for their integration of modern design with historic substance. Alba Delia Popa was among the first to promote the industrial design, etc. Many others worked on less glamorous projects, which nevertheless enabled them (as much as it was possible) to pursue original architectural ideas. I hate to say this and, even though it is certainly open to debate, Anca Petrescu’s ability to win the confidence of the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in the 1980s attests to the stability and equitable position of the drawing board au féminin until the end of the communist period.

As for the magazine and my quantitative approach, these objective results have no absolute validity for recent history (Arhitectura is an important, if secondary source, and possibly biased). Yet, they are meaningful from a gender perspective because they speak about the visibility or the right to be visible on the part of women architects, and about their determination to prevail over contextual prejudices. From their student days until their death, women architects were there, disrupting a patriarchal tradition, defying the society’s gender stereotypes, and equalling—I dare say—the achievements of their male colleagues. And no feminist discourse helped them; no mention or hint of the kind can be found in the pages of the magazine, even when it should have resonated.30

SINE IRA ET STUDIO
After 1989, a savage liberal economy with hazy legal and moral limits hastily replaced the old order. Striking individualism supplanted communist uniformity, breeding discriminatory side effects. The issue of gender suddenly took on new meaning. Recent studies question the alleged gender equality that was established under Communism, and insist on its failure.
Looking very narrowly at architecture, feminist discourse takes too easily for granted aspects of life that are meaningful in Western society and tries to demonstrate their validity in the Romanian context, thus risking the falsification of a historic reality that needs greater research.
My inquiry into the “drawing board au féminin” during Communism shows that women architects enjoyed a non-discriminatory atmosphere. Working alongside their male colleagues, their numbers increased, their visibility grew, and they gained prestige.. The political reality and the legacy of a deeply patriarchal society notwithstanding, the equality that women architects experienced was more than nominal. Data, fragments of professional life, and memories show that the evolution of women architects followed an autonomous pattern within their genus proximus.
My point is that this pattern was not a result of official legislation that was enacted to bring about gender equality. This (relative) success resides in the intersection of two particular circumstances of a somewhat dissimilar nature: the institutionalization of architectural design, which objectively levelled the playing field for both men and women, and the cohesive force of a professional identity that was inherited from the guild. Born in a debonair manner, the guild offered an escape from reality under Communism. This group identity had no real function, but was important for psychological reasons, because it existed in opposition to the anonymity that was forced upon all architects. By expressing what the public was supposed to see in an architect, it became what architects dreamed of becoming. This compensatory illusion intensified in the late 1980s, when Romanian architects became nothing more than servants who carried out the dictator’s orders.
I dare say that all members of this profession internalized this extra-ordinary condition of gender equality during an exceptional period. To put it crudely, the identity of belonging to a community of architects was stronger than gender identity or any other age-old prejudices. Revisiting the idea of women-architects’ Pyrrhic victory from which I started, I would say that, at the end of the communist period, no matter their sex, to paraphrase Monsieur Jourdain: Romanian architects have been building gender equity for forty years, but did not know it.31

1. The specious choice of the word guild is most probably related to the romantic ethos of the time.
2. Most of the first generation of Romanian architects studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris (EBA). Upon returning to Bucharest, in 1892 they founded the Romanian Society of Architects and the School of Architecture, adapting the EBA model to the local conditions. This school changed its name many times, but it remained the only higher education institution for architecture in Romania till 1990. After 1952 it was named Ion Mincu Institute of Architecture (IAIM); now it is Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism (UAUIM). In order to avoid confusions, I shall simply name it “the School”, the way it is commonly remembered.
3. The guild and its fashionable society are remarkably described in George Călinescu’s novel Bietul Ioanide [Poor Ioanide], ESPLA, 1953.
4. 1913: Virginia Andreescu Haret, Henriette Delavrancea (-Gibory), Marioara Ioanovici; 1915: Lucia Dumbrăveanu (Creangă). For the School, see note 2.
5. Cf. Beatriz Colomina: “With, or Without you: The Ghosts of Modern Architecture”, in Cornelia H. Butler and Alexandra Schwartz (eds): Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art, New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2010.
6. Data extracted from Grigore Ionescu: ’75 de ani de învățământ superior de arhitectură’ [75 Years of Higher Architectural Education], ‘120 de ani de la înființarea învățământului de arhitectură din România’ [120 Years from the Foundation of Architectural Education in Romania] (documents for internal use, in the UAUIM Library) and Ana Maria Vesa: Școala de Arhitectură (1944-1989) Proiecte de diplomă – dinamică și relevanță [The School of Architecture (1944-1989). Diploma projects – dynamics and relevance], UAUIM doctoral thesis, 2013.
7. Cf. Farshid Moussavi, Agenda bender: the case for the abolition of female role models. in AR: http://www.architectural-review.com/farshid-moussavi-on-women-in-architecture/8630800.article Accessed December 12, 2013.
8. Cleopatra Vera (later Alifanti) went on to have a successful career.
9. The Decision on the construction and reconstruction of cities and the organisation of activity in the field of architecture (13 November 1952) placed architectural practice and education under Stalinist central control. The state design offices employed all architects, and no other form of practice was tolerated.

10. For example, those with a national, regional or local focus, or carrying out more general or specialized projects. The most coveted was the Party’s “Carpati” institute, where salaries were higher. But they never listed jobs and preferred to choose their employees themselves.
11. See Ana Maria Zahariade: Architecture in the Communist Project. Romania 1944-1989, Simetria, 2011.
12. The Black Sea coast was the most important and propagandistic project of the regime. See Alina Șerban (ed.): Enchanting Views: Romanian Black Sea Tourism Planning and Architecture of The 1960s and 70s, Ed. Asociatia Pepluspatru, 2015.
13. See Ana Maria Zahariade: Testing the Physiognomy of the Arhitectura Magazine (1952-1989), in Studies of History and Theory of Architecture, vol. 1, 2013, Ed. Universitară Ion Mincu, București.
14. There were slight changes in the name of the magazine during that period; see note 13. In order to simplify the reading, the issues of the Arhitectura magazine quoted are indicated only with the number of the issue and the year.
15. For instance, in 2/1961 (reconstruction in Bucharest) there are 20 women and 24 men, while in 3/62 (industrial buildings), 4 women and 32 men.
16. For instance, in 4-5/1961 among the 18 projects presented, 13 have female ‘main designers’.
17. These include: Margareta and Anton Dâmboianu, Ioana Grigorescu and Nicolae Diaconu, Maria Vaida and Nicolae Porumbescu.
18. 24 women/26 men (4-5/1961); 37 women/58 men (1/1966); 32women/76 men (4/1973) 23 women in 3/74; 34 women/76 men (4/1974); 64 women/97 men (6/1967); 81 women/116 men (2-3/1977); 45 F/57b (6/1981)
19. 32 women versus 76 men in 4/1973, which was dedicated to Historic Preservation.
20. Monica Mărgineanu Cârstoiu, Eugenia Greceanu, Sanda Voiculescu, Mira Dordea-Voitec etc.
21. Paraschiva Iubu is an exception, as she was an important, early member of Octav Doicescu’s team.
22. The first architectural competition was published in 1956; 13 competitions appear between 1956 and 1969; 25 in the 1970s; and a drastic decrease takes place in the 1980s.The last real competition is described in 1/1987.
23. Alexandra Florian is the only woman who is mentioned.
24. Duiliu Marcu, Petre Antonescu, Richard Bordenache, Octav Doicescu, and Paul Emil Miclescu.
25. Margareta Pinchis, in 1952, with the symbolic Bicaz power plant.
26. I only mention the peaks: 9 women (vs. 13 men) were awarded the prize in 1962 (3/1963); in 1964, 21 women (vs. 34 men) + 16 women (vs. 18 men) with recompenses (1/1966); in 1965, 15 women and 24 men (4/1966); in 1965, 16 women and 22 men (2/1967); in 1976, 16 women and 22 men (2-3/1977).
27. Marica Cotescu, Henriette Delavrancea, Cristina Neagu and Corina Popa were all already well known personalities.
28. Ileana Murgescu (from 5/1972), Ana Vasilache (4/1976), Alba Delia Popa (3/1973), Ene Cristina (4/1985), Ruxandra Clit (6/1984), Anca Tomașevshi (4/1985).
29. Alexandra Florian (5/1974), Ileana Murgescu (1/1987).
30. For instance, the 3rd Congress of Women Architects (UIFA), held in Bucharest in 1972. But, as the woman was proclaimed de jure as the equal of man, there was no room for feminist discourse within communist ideology. Official gender emancipation was contradicted by institutional practices and by the mentality of party leaders.
31. Cf. Molière, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, Acte I, scène IV: « Par ma foi ! il y a plus de quarante ans que je dis de la prose sans que j’en susse rien, … »

SUMARUL REVISTEI ARHITECTURA, NR 2-3/2017

Femei în arhitectura românească

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