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Dr. Manal Ahmed Samir Abou El-Ela :: Publications:

Tactics of Resistance in Women-only Spaces The Case of Solaris
Authors: Mai Aboul-Dahab; Manal A. Samir Abou El-Ela; Ahmed El Antably
Year: 2016
Keywords: Not Available
Journal: DAKAM (Eastern Mediterranean Academic Research Center) Istanbul Gender and women studies’16
Volume: Not Available
Issue: Not Available
Pages: Not Available
Publisher: Not Available
Local/International: International
Paper Link: Not Available
Full paper Not Available
Supplementary materials Not Available

This paper explores the architectural design of women-only spaces in Cairo, Egypt. It draws on the case of Solaris, a women-only health club located in an affluent suburb of Cairo. Although Solaris is constructed to serve female needs, and owned by a female, it was designed by a male architect. We aim to explore the tactics of resistance and appropriation women performed to challenge the design imposed by the male architect. In order to do so, we conducted interviews with the architect, the owner of Solaris, and observed the space while used by women. In an aim to highlight the tensions present between the authorities who designed the space and its actual use by the inhabitants, we build upon Michel de Certeau concepts of “strategic” and “tactic” spaces. We also draw heavily on the work of Henri Lefebvre on the concept of spatial triad, in which he argues that space is produced by the interaction between spatial practice, representations of space and representational space. In this paper, we argue that designers should be aware of their misconceptions on gender. Accordingly, the predefined assumptions about the architectural design of women-only spaces need to be questioned.

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