Evaluating the Matrix: notes from inside the collective
Dwyer, Julia (2006) Evaluating the Matrix: notes from inside the collective Routledge, London, UK.
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Altering Practices: Feminist Politics and Poetics of Space is the only evaluative history of the London-based cooperative design practice Matrix, which closed in the early 1990s. The theoretical and practice-based critique of architecture from a feminist perspective activated by Matrix, and the group’s unique influence on a range of architects and designers, is documented in its book Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment (1984). Well-publicised in the architectural press of the 1980s, only partial histories of Matrix existed, and Dwyer’s chapter (with Thorne) is of both historical interest and contemporary relevance. As architects, both authors participated in the Matrix experiment, and their research was supported by three former Matrix members and an external reader, Dr Lynne Walker from the Institute of Historical Research. 'Evaluating Matrix' was first configured as a paper presented to the international Alterities conference at ENSBA, Ecole d’Architecture Paris, 1999, where both the Altering Practices book and the artist-architect group Taking Place were conceived. Post-conference, an interview with Dwyer (and Thorne) was published as ‘The Sensitivity of the Viewer, the Sensitivity of the User’ in Radio Temporaire at Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble, 2002 (ISBN 2-906732-74-5) alongside interviews with Stuart Hall, Helen Scalway and Doina Petrescu. This publication continued the topical discourse started at the conference by notably addressing the perceived end of eras dominated by the nation-state and national cultures. Further developments from Dwyer (and Thorne’s) original paper include a presentation at the Architecture au Feminin conference, Ecole d’Architecture Paris in 2000, convened by ARVHA, and the feminist contemporary architecture web resource (with whom Dwyer worked on the EU-funded, RIBA-supported Discovering Contemporary Architecture CD).
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