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Catalog of the biggest LGBT references in architecture (finally)

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From the outside, the house that British professor and historian Mansfield Forbes renovated in Cambridge in the late 1920s didn’t look very different from the others. Inside, the hallway lined with glass and silver leaf, cutting through it like a sword, was reminiscent of the crystal palace of Lady Finella, the legendary Scottish noblewoman to whom this homosexual professor had dedicated his home. The vaulted corridor’s lights bounced off its walls at night, turning it into a torrent of iridescent water, a reflection of the waterfall which legend has it that Lady Finella swooped to avert capture after the assassination of King Kenneth II of Scotland escape. .

Designed by Forbes alongside modern architect Raymond McGrath, the Finella home is one of the spaces that brought together designer Adam Nathaniel Furman and architectural historian Joshua Mardell Queer Spaces, an atlas of LGTBIQ+ places with which they wanted to close what they felt was an inexcusable gap in the architectural bibliography. The book was published by the editorial office of Royal Institute of British Architects (the professional organization of architects in the UK) which will make it easier for architecture students to refer to the Mansfield Forbes villa and the other spaces included in the atlas in their academic projects. Furman is defined as strange and makes sure he wasn’t that lucky during the race.

New Sazae, one of the oldest gay bars in Tokyo, an institution in the local atmosphere.Kaoru Yamada

“In architecture, students can only submit their work if they refer to precedents that come from a source that the lecturers recognize as reputable,” explains the designer over the phone. “Some of my classmates had very poor quality charcoal drawings and models, but they quoted praise of the shadows or Peter Zumthor and the tutors gave the green light. On the contrary, I used artists and writers as a reference strange that the tutors did not know or considered worthy of appearing in an architectural project, so my work, which, like me, was deep strangeI was teased and always laughed at. There were no architectural offices strange that I could use as a base.

Queer Spaces includes nearly a hundred of these spaces around the world, which the book biographies of the fifty architects, historians, writers, activists and other collaborators who recruited Adam Nathaniel Furman and Joshua Mardell for their mission. The first of the book’s three chapters focuses on domestic spaces, “small worlds strange where those whose lifestyles were publicly frowned upon found a place to gather their memories, celebrate life milestones and be accepted as human beings.

Adam Nathaniel Furman pictured at his home in London.  Photo: Simone Perolari.
Adam Nathaniel Furman pictured at his home in London. Photo: Simone Perolari.

The most famous places in this first group are Neuschwanstein Castle and the castles that Ludwig II of Bavaria had built in the mid-19th century to escape his time and live (depending on which he retreated to with his loved ones). the sun king or the hero of an opera by Richard Wagner. The English writer William Beckford also used architecture to escape the mediocrity of his time. After a sex scandal to his neighbors exposed him as homosexual, the author reported on Vathek He built Fonthill Abbey, an impressive neo-Gothic mansion, which was demolished after a few years. In Italy, the key to the success of Capri and other tourist attractions lies in homes like the Villa Lysis, which French poet Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen built on the island early last century to go into southern Italian exile to live out her sexuality to be able to, as Oscar Wilde and other gay artists had done.

Less well known than the previous houses is Dracula’s Den (Dracula’s Lair), built in the 1990s in the Japanese city of Chiba, so named because it resembled a coffin without its facade with windows. It was built by architect Osamu Ishiyama to make a painter and his friend “feel protected from the environment and from the looks of their neighbors,” writes Japanese architect Alyssa Ueno. The light from the ceiling window fell unhindered into the interior of the house, which hardly had any compartments, since its owners did not need a separate bedroom or living room like other families.

The concept of home space that presents itself Queer Spaces is as open as the one this couple had. Thus, the first place that appears in the book is not a house but a wagon: the commuter wagon in which transgender writer Ailo Ribas took the opportunity to fit her first breast prostheses while traveling between her city of Premià de Mar and Barcelona.

The Sicilian city of Taormina: a must for gay Grand Tour travelers in the 19th century.
The Sicilian city of Taormina: a must for gay Grand Tour travelers in the 19th century.The J. Paul Getty Museum (The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles)

In the second and last chapter Queer Spaces deals with those “communal” and “public” spaces that are used by people strange more or less certainly met throughout history. A Glasgow bookshop specializing in themed titles opens strange (category is books), the Sicilian city of Taormina (an obligatory stop for gay travelers on the 19th-century Grand Tour) or New Sazae, one of Yukio Mishima’s favorite bars in Tokyo’s gay district.

Of all these spaces, few were created with the LGBTQ community in mind. An example is homomonument, the Amsterdam memorial that has commemorated those murdered because of their sexual orientation since 1987. Another case is the Victorian Pride Centre, a building in Melbourne inaugurated last year to serve as the headquarters for various LGBT organisations. On the contrary, mostly people strange already existing areas had to be taken over. For example, the LGTBIQ+ community of Managua, Nicaragua occupied the Cathedral of Santiago Apóstol after an earthquake in 1972 left the building without its original religious purpose. Homosexuals, for their part, practiced in Stalin’s Moscow cruise in the bathroom of the old Central Museum of Lenin. The Russian artist Yevgeniy Fiks explains in his text that they used to be found around the statues and monuments of Lenin as well, since Stalin, when he came to power, punished homosexuality, the Bolsheviks from “Grandma Lena” (as they called Lenin in warehouse) had it decriminalized.

The inclusion of these diverse and unorthodox places in the book reflects the myriad possibilities that are strange They had to manage to get their place. Now they can appear in academia, which Furman says has already begun: In recent weeks, several architecture students have sent him photos of the projects they presented in the race Queer Spaces for reference. “Of the Companions strange who started studying architecture with me, or dropped out and became interior designers, or who did such heteronormative projects that the tutors forced us to do. Belonging to a more political and open world, today’s young people are questioning the value system that governs professional architecture and its academic arm. This book is for you.”

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