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Towards Abundance: the Delightful Paradoxes of Gender by John Jennifer Marx and The Architectural Review

Towards Abundance: the Delightful Paradoxes of Gender
John Jennifer Marx
Architecture, Gender Studies
8 cm x 22.5 cm
The Architectural Review

In this advocacy monograph, we hope to explore the paradoxical relationship between gender and architecture; to advocate for changes in how we see gender, and as a result in how we design. While much work has been done, and still must be done, to bring parity and equality to the architectural profession, we wanted to go past discussions of labour statistics, to explore what is still being left out in the pursuit of progress.'

John Jennifer Marx

During the vernissage of the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale, the internationally acclaimed publication Architectural Review launched its latest monograph Towards Abundance: the Delightful Paradoxes of Gender. Co-edited by John Jennifer Marx and The Architectural Review the 58-page publication advocates for designers and architects to reconsider a normative masculine tradition in how spaces are conceived and created, a tradition that may feel outdated yet is very much alive in contemporary practice.

Towards Abundance: the Delightful Paradoxes of Gender tackles the subject of gender and design through actively soliciting multiple interpretations in a non-prescriptive, wholly inquisitive and intellectually inclusive way. It is very much about an abundance of voices and ways of thinking and feeling, as the publication’s title suggests.  The monograph - consisting of an essay collection - asks questions and invites readers to interrogate what is suggested by its editorial team of 16 contributors who represent the worlds of design practice, architectural history and theory as well as gender research and journalism.

Topics covered include the notion of multi-cultural urbanism in the face of placeless and often characterless modernity, the introduction of a more sensual and sensitive placemaking that is welcoming to all, and the rethinking of the singular maestro-led vision of how architecture is made.  An over-arching theme that resonates throughout the chapters in Towards Abundance: the Delightful Paradoxes of Gender is that of finding a better balance between the rational and the notional.   As John Jennifer Marx writes, “Imagine, as we look past a culture of binary gender, we might see the beginning of ‘gender expressionism’, of a balance between self-expression and belonging, a celebration of our uniqueness in the context of our commonalities.”

The cover of the essay collection is an interpretation of the Three Graces by artist Madelon Vriesendorp who in 1975 co-founded the Dutch architecture studio OMA.  Made as a special commission for the publication, Vriesendorp’s work speaks of how, through meaningful change, we can reach a new understanding that is reflected all around us, including the buildings we occupy.

Towards Abundance the Delightful Paradoxes of Gender

Towards Abundance: the Delightful Paradoxes of Gender
John Jennifer Marx
Madelon Vriesendorp
Darran Anderson
Jessica Andrews
Fernanda Canales
Pol Esteves Castello
Maria Jesus Contreras
Adam Nathaniel Furman
Hilde Heynen
Carla Juacaba
Ruth Lang
Yasmeen Lari
Dang Qun
Yael Reisner
Sumayya Vally
Max L Zarzycki
Editors: Manon Mollard with John Jennifer Marx
Project Editor: Max L Zarzycki
The Architectural Review 

1. The Architectural Review was founded in 1896. In the 20th century it became one of the pioneering platforms for Modern architecture.  In the 21st century the publication has tackled many of the problems that a rapacious speed of careless urban development has created, including environmental disasters, alienation and homelessness. Towards Abundance: the Delightful Paradoxes of Gender is the second advocacy monograph that John Jennifer Marx has initiated and collaborated on with The Architectural Review. The first - The Absurdity Of Beauty – Rebalancing the Modernist narrative - was published in 2018. As with the latest publication - Towards Abundance: the Delightful Paradoxes of Gender – it, too, touched on a need for a more emotionally meaningful and inclusive response to design.  

2. John Jennifer Marx is the founding design principal and Chief Artistic Officer of Form4 Architecture, a San Francisco firm that creates prominent buildings and campuses for Bay Area tech companies including Google and Netflix. Form4 Architecture is the recipient of more than 190 design awards and the firm was named a Laureate of the American Prize for Architecture in 2017. In 2021, Marx an architect, poet and artist received the James Gates Percival International Prize for Literature for his book Études: The Poetry of Dream + Other Fragments. Marx lectures and writes internationally on the topics of design, placemaking, and emotional meaning in architecture, remaining a steadfast advocate for self-determination in the face of reductive and all too often biased conformity.

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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