Our aim in the first phase of this project is to give visibility to the female pioneers in architecture in Austria.
These were the questions we began our research with. The starting point is the lack of specific research on the first female architects in Austria.
It is our concern to review the history of women in architecture in Austria and to place it in the historical context in order to make these women visible and to broaden the general understanding and knowledge of the subject. The first phase of our research focuses on the female pioneers in architecture in Vienna from 1880 – 1938. Our mission is to establish basic knowledge about the first women who chose the profession of the architect. Through our research, we aim to contribute to the Austrian history of architecture and women and to show role models for the 21st century.
This new website was created to make the female pioneers in architecture visible to the public and to make our research easily accessible using modern technology.
The research was started in 2021 through the initiative of the Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky Club, then located in 1030 Vienna, Untere Weißgerberstraße 41 in the Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky Raum.
After the club moved and the Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky Zentrum (MSL Zentrum) was founded in the former apartment of architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky at 1050 Vienna, Franzensgasse 16/40, the MSL Zentrum is now the sponsor of the project.
In the archives of the three Viennese architectural training institutions, systematic research was conducted on women who had begun or completed an architectural education up to 1938. The initial situation at the archives of the three education centres and the research situation in the archives were very different.
Archives of the Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule (now the University of Applied Arts)
The Art Collection and Archive of the University of Applied Arts Vienna contains all class catalogues from 1868 onwards. This includes the Nationale enrolments forms, which were filled out by the students every school year, annual reports and graduation certificates issued from 1890 onwards (older certificates are not available in the KGS Archive).
Furthermore, digital media are available: The 4D database contains information on all individuals, with digitised data on teachers and students. The MuseumsPlus database contains information on the inventory of the collection, in form of descriptions and in some cases images.
Women could be admitted to the k. k. Kunstgewerbeschule since its foundation in 1868. Between 1873 and 1913, 56 women were enrolled in architecture programs. These were mainly concerned with decorative interior design such as embroidery and lace work. From 1913 to the 1937/38 school year, 93 women were registered. Of these, 40 graduated. From 1913, Josef Hoffmann and Heinrich Tessenow led architecture classes, and from 1914, Oskar Strnad as well. This differentiated the architecture classes and the teaching. Tessenow taught building construction for the first time in addition to the specialist class. In the Hoffmann class, training in the arts and crafts predominated, while in the Strnad class students were also interested in theatre and stage design. Therefore, only female students with an entry in the catalogue for architectural education, such as “interior design or house construction”, are included.
Additionally, there were 5 female students who completed or began an artistic education and then entered architecture or interior design or followed a further educational path and are known from literature, such as Ella Briggs-Baumfeld.
Archives of the former Technische Hochschule Wien (today Technische Universität Wien)
The following literature was fundamental for the archival research at the TU Wien (formerly known as ‘Technische Hochschule Wien’). Juliane Mikoletzky, Ute Georgeacopol-Winischhofer, Margit Pohl: “Dem Zuge der Zeit entsprechend …” Zur Geschichte des Frauenstudiums in Österreich am Beispiel der Technischen Universität Wien, WUV-Universitätsverlag Wien, 1997.
This book lists all women who enrolled for architectural studies at the TU Wien from 1919/20 to 1944/45. It contains short biographies of some of the women, while the rest are listed in the appendix in chronological and alphabetical order of the year of their enrolment. It also shows the ‘struggle’ for admission as a regular or non-degree student.
At the Technische Hochschule Wien, women were only able to study as full auditors from 07.04.1919. Women who aspired to study technology even before admission were Leonie Pilewska and Ella Briggs-Baumfeld, the latter of whom was one of the first guest students at the Building School of the TH Wien in 1916-1918. A total of 103 women were identified at the Technical University. 43 of them graduated with 2nd-level state exam. 15 of them graduated with 1st-level state exam. 5 of them were only non-degree students (Pilewska, Zimbler, Sparre, Ohmann, Duczynska), 5 of them graduated with a doctorate.
University Archives of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Here the archive management already created an inventory of all women who have ever studied at the university. Therefore, all female students could be queried digitally by year of study or class. In addition, there is a digital document for each woman who studied in architecture classes from 1920 to 1938, in which all archived materials on study information are compiled and scanned. This generally contained: the ‘Nationale’ (enrolment form), a study record sheet, furthermore scholarships, sometimes correspondence, sometimes the tasks of the design projects to be completed or the content of the diploma thesis, and upon graduation the certificate of qualification as an academically educated architect ‘Diplomarchitekt’.
Women were allowed to study at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna from 1920 onwards. 16 women studied in master schools of architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna between 1920 and 1938. Of these, 8 graduated (5 even with good success). All of them studied in the 1930s.
Altogether, a total of 204 women were identified as having received an architectural education in Vienna in the period from 1913 to 1937/1938. Of these, 93 attended Kunstgewerbeschule, 103 Technische Hochschule and 16 Akademie der Bildenden Künste. These figures include women who studied only briefly as well as those who graduated. 8 women studied at more than one architectural training institution, and 5 even held two degrees in Vienna. A total of 5 women who enrolled before 1938 earned their doctorates between 1935 and 1947. 9 women were able to obtain a degree abroad.