Gender and the production of Space in socialist Yugoslavia

Essay in: Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980, edited by Martino Stierli and Vladimir Kulić (New York, NY: The Museum of Modern Art, 2018). Theodossis Issaias and Anna Kats.

Theodossis Issaias
Anna Kats
Architecture, Archive, Catalogue Chapter, Exhibition, History, Research, Theory

In socialist Yugoslavia’s founding narrative, the woman partisan had won her emancipation with the rifle. The activities of the Women’s Antifascist Front (AFŽ) during World War II, which extended from the armed fight to grassroots political organization, advanced feminist causes and solidified women’s position in the creation of the socialist federation. With the transition to civilian life, Yugoslavia’s first postwar constitution of 1946 unequivocally granted Yugoslav women full citizenship, both by guaranteeing voting rights to all citizens regardless of sex and by providing special protection for women’s place in the production process. It also adhered to one of the fundamental tenets of the socialist-Marxist ideology; that is, women’s emancipation depended on the egalitarian distribution of wealth and vice versa. Nevertheless, this promise of equality was more rhetoric than action.Systemic and structural gender disparities persisted, hindering women’s participation in the labor force and advancement in leadership positions. The architectural profession was no exception. The few women architects who ultimately commanded public profiles did so in spite of, not through the dismantling of, both the region’s and the profession’s male-dominated cultures. Therefore, the contributions of women architects— who have so often been omitted from the histories of socialist Yugoslavia’s architecture — are examined here in relation to the successes and failures of this constitutional promise of equality.

[link to exhibition and catalogue]

Portions of this work appeared in the following magazines and newspapers:

2018. Article in: “Balkan Brut” in Metropolis Magazine, edited by Samuel Medina and the online platform of Metropolis Magazine under the title “The Women who built Yugoslavia”, June 2018.

2018. Article in: Albanian Journal “Arkitektet femra që ndërtuan në Jugosllavi”, 24 July 2018.

2018. Article in: Arts Section of Kathimerini Newspaper in Greece “Εκείνες που Έχτισαν την Γιουγκοσλαβία», 23 August 2018.


Fatura Collaborative – Research & Design Practice, was founded in 2009 and is developing projects across a wide range of scales, from intimate objects and performance, to architecture, urban design and planning. We are interested in architecture as social infrastructure, in developing collective equipments, in the design of spaces of care, empathy and welfare. We design and research expanding new problematics about ecology, the domestic, everyday life and the city.



is an architect, researcher and educator based in London. She holds a diploma in architecture from the School of Architecture of the University of Patras, Greece (2015) and was awarded a PhD from the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art (2022). Her thesis dealt with the materiality of grassroots, ad hoc and mutual aid projects by social movements in Europe and the United States, with an emphasis on their relationship with the state. She is teaching in undergraduate architectural design studios and history and theory courses at the London South Bank University and Central Saint Martins. She is also a registered architect in the UK (ARB) and Greece (TCG) and has practiced architecture in London, Madrid and Athens.


is an architect, researcher, and educator. He studied architecture in Thessaloniki, Greece, and holds an MSc from Columbia University and a PhD from TU Delft and The City as a Project research collective. He is the director of Projective Cities MPhil programme at the Architectural Association, where he is also teaching Diploma Unit 7 with Hamed Khosravi. Previously, he has taught at the Berlage Institute (Netherlands), in the MArch Urban Design programme at the Bartlett, the RCA, Syracuse University and the University of Cyprus. His research interests explore urban design and architecture in the relation to the politics of labour, economy, law and labour struggles. He has written and lectured extensively about Greek urbanisation and the politics of urban development.


is an architect and educator, and recently joined the Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art as Associate Curator. He earned his diploma of Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens and an SMarchS degree from MIT. Since 2009, he has been practicing as a founding member of Fatura Collaborative, an architecture and research collective. His PhD dissertation, “Architectures of the Humanitarian Front” (Yale University), explores the nexus of humanitarian organizations and architecture and their relation to conflict, displacement and the provision of shelter.


is an architect based in Lund, Sweden. He graduated in 2010 from the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens and holds an MSc in Energy Efficient and Environmental Building Design from the School of Architecture of Lund University (2015). He has practiced architecture as a freelance architect in Greece and currently in Sweden (eg. Tengbom architects), where he works on a wide range of projects including small houses, larger residential complexes as well as care, educational and industrial facilities.


graduated in 2007 from the School of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. She holds the MSc in Advanced Architectural Design from GSAPP, Columbia University (2008). In June 2016, she was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the Architectural Association. Her thesis dealt with the transition towards abstraction in art and architecture during the end of 19th and early 20th centuries, with an emphasis on interwar architectural modernism in Germany. Alexandra has been teaching at the AA since 2012, where she is currently a studio master in the First Year Studio of the Experimental Programme and a Programme Coordinator and Course tutor in the MArch Architecture & Urbanism (DRL) programme. She has practiced as an architect in New York and Athens.