independent school for the city

Bloody Architecture

A conversation about menstruation and menopause in relation to architecture, curated by affect lab. Thursday 18 January 19:00 – 21:00 (Doors open at 18:30).

Bloody Architecture

Affect lab and the Independent School for the City teamed up to organise ‘Bloody Architecture’. With Bloody Architecture, we aimed to situate the experience of menstruating bodies within a broader feminist approach to the built environment. This event will highlight the ways in which stigma, taboo, and the imposed invisibility of menstruation influence the way bodies interact with the built environment. By questioning how this imposed invisibility has been designed into our public spaces (traditionally by able-bodied cis-gender men), affect lab seeks to challenge it, engaging with the appropriation and use of public space as a political act. 

Guests for the evening were Molly Hughes, an architect based in London, who will presented her project Taboo in the Loo, which explores the designs of public bathrooms in London. Tammy Sheldon, co-founder of Neighbourhood Feminists, discussed their project ‘Menstruation Stations’, addressing the lack of menstrual products in public spaces in Amsterdam. Researcher and writer Mayim Frieden explored how urban design, planning, and infrastructure work to enforce gender inequities towards trans and gender fluid people, and how queerness can be employed to expand spatial practices.

The whole evening, moderated by Dymphie Braun, was accompanied by inspiring and honest discussions, allowing the participants to relate and be heard. The initiative of affectlab, hand in hand with projects by Molly, Mayam and Tammy gave us a shot of hope and motivation to break the menstruation taboo, also in the architecture and design world. The evening was

Programme

18:30 Doors open

19:00 Welcome by Independent School for the City

19:10 Introduction by affect lab

19:20-21:00 Presentations by Molly Hughes, Tammy Sheldon and Mayim Frieden, followed by roundtable discussion

21:00-22:00 Bar open for drinks

About Bloody Beautiful

Bloody Architecture is part of BLOODY BEAUTIFUL, a movement for lesser-heard stories about menstruation and menopause, curated by affect lab. Their goal is to creatively propagate new public narratives about menstruation and menopause in a gender-forward way.

About Molly Hughes
Molly Hughes (she/her) is an architect based in London. In 2023 she graduated from MA Architecture at the RCA. Her project Taboo in the Loo explores the design of women’s public bathrooms in London. She maps the awkward encounters which take place as a menstruating person when using a public toilet, and through this process identifies architectural interventions that could improve the overall experience. Her research is led by the question: How can we understand the formation of ‘taboo’ surrounding menstruation through analysing its mobilisation through the public bathroom? 

About Tammy Sheldon
Tammy Sheldon (she/her) is a community organiser and the co-founder of Neighbourhood Feminists. With co-founders Camila Montecinos Díaz and Anneloes Dijkman, Tammy set up Neighbourhood Feminists in 2019 with the goal to end period poverty in Amsterdam. Their direct-action projects include the distribution of Dignity Kits – kits with menstrual products and the most basic of toiletries, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and shampoo – and the setting up of Menstruation stations – self-serve cabinets placed by us in easy-to-reach locations – across Amsterdam. Additionally, in 2022, Neighbourhood Feminists released Amsterdam’s first-ever quantitative research on period poverty.

About Mayim Frieden
Mayim Frieden (they/he) is a researcher and writer with a BA in Art & Architectural History and an MA in Design Cultures. Focusing on the interplay between design and sociology, they study how our environments influence how we understand and treat ourselves and one another. From public bathrooms to self-tracking apps, he questions the consequences of the design discipline’s embodiment of various binaries, and in turn, he imagines alternative, co-created, futures. 

About affect lab
Affect lab is a research practice and creative studio headed by Klasien van de Zandschulp and Dr. Natalie Dixon. In collaboration with an international artistic network, we use design research, experimental field work and immersive storytelling to inspire a more inclusive future. Our work is guided by principles of care and empathy for local culture and community with a focus on co-creating work. At the heart of our projects we believe in building networks of trust, fostering a sense of belonging and contributing to the emotional wellbeing of people and cities.

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