Special Issue "Becoming a Gender Equity Democracy: Women and Architecture Practice in Spain and Portugal (1960s–1980s)"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Applied Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 6 December 2019.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Lucia C. Pérez-Moreno
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Senior Lecturer, History and Theory of Architecture, School of Engineering and Architecture, Zaragoza University, 50018 Zaragoza, Spain
2. Head, Research Project: Women in Spanish (Post)Modern Architecture Culture, 1975–2000 (Founded by the Spanish Government)
Interests: history of architecture; gender studies; Spanish architecture; feminist practices in architecture; architecture journals
Dr. Patrícia Santos Pedrosa
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Researcher, Interdisciplinary Center of Gender Studies, University of Lisbon, 1300-663 Lisbon, Portugal
2. Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal
3. Head, Research Project: [email protected]—Women Architects in Portugal: Building Visibility, 1942–1986 (Founded by the Portuguese Government)
Interests: history of architecture; Portuguese architecture; gender studies; architecture and cities; dwelling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The fourth feminist wave in which we are living is witnessing the emergence of new research on the history of women who have worked in traditionally male professions. This volume of Arts seeks to constrast the investigations developed by Spanish and Portuguese research centers regarding the history of women in architecture. The aim of this Special Issue is presenting different studies that deal with how women began to practice architecture in Spain and Portugal. Both countries share not only the Iberian Peninsula, but also a political situation that postponed the advent of democracy several decades in comparison with other European countries. They also shared lengthy totalitarian regimes that took their toll on women’s rights, as well as on their possibilities to practice technical professions.

This call for papers seeks for manuscripts that analyze architectural designs of female authorship—designed either individually or in mixed-gender teams—but which do so from a cultural and sociopolitical perspective that allows framing them within the progress of democratic values that allowed women to choose and freely develop the architect profession. This Special Issue welcomes works that relate to those legislative, political, cultural and social changes in Spain and Portugal from the 1960s to the 1980s that have led to women assuming leading roles in the many areas of architectural practice, be it construction, urban planning, urban design, landscape design, restoration, or interior design. Further, this issue of Arts seeks for texts that explore whether female authorship has influenced those designs in any way, be it because they apply a gender-based perspective, or/and because they feature innovations that differ from those of their male colleagues.

Dr. Lucia C. Pérez-Moreno
Dr. Patrícia Santos Pedrosa
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • women in architecture
  • Spanish architecture
  • Portuguese architecture
  • architecture historiography
  • gender equity
  • democracy

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Women in Iberian Architecture in the 1970s. Cultural and Socio-Political Changes on the Path to Democracy

Abstract: The 1970s was a key decade in the path towards democracy in the Iberian Peninsula. Spain and Portugal suffered deep social, cultural and political changes, with Salazar's and Franco's Totalitarian Regimes ending in 1974 and 1975 respectively. In both countries, both located side-by-side in the Western end of Southern Eurpoe,  democracy was finally established, marking a turning point in the liberties of all iberian citizens, but especially in regard to women's life and work. Political isolation came to an end once and for all, and the subsequent committment with the Economic European Community at first, and the European Union later, became key factors for the future development of the architecture profession in both countries. This article presents and compares the cultural, social and political changes of both Portugal and Spain in order to establish how their new democratic Goverments fostered the integration of women in the practice of the architectural profession. The aim of this text is to understand both the common traits of the parallel—and still ongoing- evolution towards equality of female architects in both Iberian countries as well as the particularities of each one of them. Although sharing the Iberian Peninsula, and a coincident  timeline in their development of democratic values, Portugal and Spain represent an interesting example of the diversity in the ways in which women have entered the architectural profession.


Filling History, Consolidating the Origins. The First Female Architects of the School of Architecture of Barcelona (1964–1975)

Abstract: After Francisco Franco's death, the process of democratization of public institutions was a key factor for the evolution of the architecture profession in Spain. The approval of the creation of Neighbourhood Associations, the first Municipal Governments, and the modernization of Spanish Universities are some examples of this. Moreover, feminist and environmental activism of some part of the Spanish society was relevant for a socio-political change that affected women in particular. The last decade of Franco's Regime coincided with the first generation of women that graduated from the School of Architecture of Barcelona (ETSAB). From 1964 to 1975, there are 73 female students who obtained their title as architects—the first one was Margarita Brender Rubira (1919–2000) who validated her degree in Romania from 1962. Some of these women became pioneers in different fields of the architecture profession, such as Roser Amador in architectural design, Alrun Jimeno in building technologies, Anna Bofill in urban design and planning, and Rosa Barba in architecture landscape. This article presents the contributions of these women to the architecture profession in relation to these socio-political advances. It also seeks—through the life stories, personal experiences, and personal visions on the professional practice—to highlight these 'other stories' that have been left out of the hegemonic historiography of Spanish Architecture.


Female Architects in Portugal: From the Dictatorship and the Colonial Period to Democratic Times (1974–1986)

Abstract: How did women architects shape a modern world in the late period of Portuguese colonial Africa? How did these same women adapt to democratic times after the independencies? The specific role of women in Portugal working for the colonial African architectural culture has now started being introduced by Portuguese and Lusophone-African historiography. During the fifties, the presence of women in the metropolitan schools of architecture was sparse. Of those who could graduate, few actually worked as architects. Most were absorbed by the commonly feminine roles, resulting from marriage and from the ideal of family promoted by the Regime of the Estado Novo. To the ones that  took the chance of pursuing an outside job outside beyond the domestic realm, options associated to the feminine universe, such as teaching, were favored. Among those who emancipated from this pattern, the majority worked in family partnerships, regarded as an extension of marriage. Female architects that followed their husbands in their African emigration often ended up having opportunities to work within their professional field due to the lack of qualified technicians and to the high offer of commissions. This paper not only seeks to outline a perspective on these women, but also tries to understand what happened after the Carnation Revolution (1974), and how they adapted to democratic times, a period when the women liberation seemed to be possible and all paths seemed to be open. This text addresses this subject through some case studies that cover some of the most common professional practises.


Constructing Spatial Flexibility in Collective Housing: Madrid in the 1970's from a Gender-Based Perspective

Abstract: This article deals with the layouts of experimental housing in Madrid in the 1970s, analysed from a gender-based perspective  that focuses on the female architects working in that period, and on the different degrees of participation that took place within their actor-network constellation. The study emphasizes the need for flexible open building systems and structures to support new and adaptable living concepts.  The research presents some outstanding case studies in Arturo Soria neighborhood in Madrid in the period 1970–1980: four cooperative housing complexes designed by Emilia Bisquert Santiago, Carmen González Lobo, Prada Poole and Ricardo Aroca among others, all developed with the involvement of the community of owners. To design possible strategies of analysis, the research compares all projects seeking to identify common key points in relation to experimental living, mainly regarding the development of different living spheres within the same adaptable "infrastructure". In all cases, this multiplicity is made possible by setting up three different subsystems: a permament system, or "infrastructure", an intermediate one with a diverse timeframe, and finally, the individual spheres. Another important issue is the relationship between the construction system and the alternative development of living layers. Explaining this relationship could help shape future livable homes in regard to the development of a sense of community, the possibility of designing for tenancies of different lengths, and the management of the constant changes of housing needs.


Women and the Making of the Alicante University Campus: Critical Reappraisals of Modern Architecture

Abstract: The campus of the University of Alicante (UA) in San Vicente del Raspeig was established on the old site of Rabasa airfield, which was founded in 1919 and would become a military aerodrome in 1936. Its former control tower, aircraft hangar metal structure, and auxiliary pavilions make a unique built environment which, in 1968, housed the Alicante University Study Center and later, in 1979, to the UA itself. The subsequent westward and, more recently, southward expansions of this historical complex have responded to the University's long term efforts and institutional commitment to creating a remarkable landscape design and a series of buildings of great architectural value that make the campus one of the major assets of this University. It is possible to read the recent history of Spanish architecture through the campus's facilities, some of which exemplify the most significant achievements of Spanish design. Yet, when approached from a gender perspective, these buildings also encapsulate the struggle of female architects to gain access to public commissions and the extremely difficult role played by women during the postmodern age. Proof of female architects’ underrepresentation is that only two women, Pilar Vázquez Carrasco, who is responsible for the Science Faculty (1982) and the Social Club I (1987), and Dolores Alonso Vera, author of the Higher Polytechnic School IV (School of Architecture) building (1999), have contributed to the architecture on the campus over the final decades of the 20th century, designing just three out of fifty buildings. This paper presents a comparative analysis of the Science Faculty and the School of Architecture, which are studied from both a gender and a generational perspective. Both of them are the result of a design competition whose authors won as sole authors. They are also illustrative of their respective architects’ idiosyncratic interpretation of modern culture, having in common their mastery of construction techniques, truth to materials and rejection of fashionable solutions. While the former—which was built in brick and concrete leaving its building services exposed—is closer to brutalist references, the latter is a brilliant exercise of architectural composition whose inviting open spaces speak volumes about its Mediterranean ethos.
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