Who were Matrix?


In the 1980s, the London-based feminist architects’ practice Matrix was one of the first worldwide to bring issues of gender centre-stage to the design of the built environment.  It was radical, not only by being a women-led platform, but also by integrating new interdisciplinary and intersectional ways of working across theory and practice. This included research about gender and space; creating feminist design guidance and support; enabling more women from under-represented groups into construction and architecture; designing building projects for and with women, and co-exploring new building types ignored by a male-dominated profession, such as women’s centres and nurseries.  These innovations are still extremely relevant for architectural students, educators and practitioners, increasingly keen to find new creative and critical forms of architectural education and practice that go beyond the Starchitects individual genius model; and for those outside the discipline who are interested in architecture but excluded from its internal debates about how architecture is for and what it should be doing.

Why a Matrix Open Archive?

The Matrix Open feminist architecture archive (MOfaa) brings together archival resources, not as an end in itself, but as a jumping off point for exploring some of the complex relationships between different kinds of bodies, space and architecture. Rather than being organised in the conventional way that would keep control of who Matrix was and what they did, the archive is accessed through multiple connections and formats, and from different points of view. The collected artefacts are understood not as definable things, but rather as moments in the always uneven, long-winded and often contradictory processes of making a building and/or changing attitudes and cultures.

MOfaa asks, for example, does architecture as a discipline value some bodies over others, in its practices and discourses, and how can this be revealed? How can other voices and experiences from outside the academy by heard, and acted on? How have feminist and other radical activities challenged conventional architectural processes and products; and how are they continuing to do so? How might architecture be done differently, with a greater focus on social, material and spatial justice?

Archive: Browse or search Matrix Open feminist architecture archive (MOfaa).

Explore: Engage with questions and issues about feminist architectural and spatial practices then and now.

Collaborate: Investigate and develop opportunities to work with others, to learn about, and discuss, ideas and future possibilities.

Texts: Download readings and resources that connect to the Matrix Open archive in a variety of ways.

MOfaa provides publically accessible and easily available access to resources, for personal and collaborative interaction and re-use. It is being developed in collaboration with some original Matrix founders, and with architectural students and educators internationally, to prototype innovative ways of engaging with primary sources that are not limited by academic notions of what constitutes ‘proper’ scholarship, but are instead open to new ways of learning and doing. This means we are also asking questions about what constitutes an archive, about what artefacts still remain over 30 years later and why; and about what stories get told and what (and who) gets left out.