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Oct 1 2020 Film /

TSA Playlist l October: Women in Architecture


Did you know October is Women’s History Month in Canada? Observed since 1992, this annual commemoration celebrates the achievements and contributions of women across the country and throughout Canada’s history. It is also a time to reflect on the many challenges and obstacles still left in achieving gender equality across our country, including the architectural profession where in 2015 women still only represented 23.7% of architects in Ontario despite being 50.7% of the population. 

In this spirit and in commemoration of Women’s History Month, our October TSA Playlist brings together a selection of documentaries and films highlighting the work and contributions of women in architecture, both locally and abroad. From the bold modernism of Lina Bo Bardi to the pioneering work of Eileen Gray, join us as we explore great works of architecture from across the world and the incredible architects behind them. 


Making Space: 5 Women Changing the Face of Architecture
2014 l 49 mins

Women are creating some of the most exciting architectural designs in the world. How have they navigated their way to the top? What is the nature of their creative process? Are there gender differences in architectural design? 

Making Space is a 1-hour documentary film about five dynamic and accomplished female architects—all rising stars in what has been an all-male galaxy: Marianne McKenna (Toronto), Annabelle Selldorf (New York), Kathryn Gustafson (Seattle and London), Farshid Moussavi (London), and Odile Decq (Paris). Come with us on this intimate journey as we see how these women are transforming the landscape of the 21st Century. Without script or narration, each woman tells her own story, enhanced by the insights of critic Paul Goldberger, MoMA’s Peter Reed, Paola Antonelli and others. [Kanopy]

Watch it on Kanopy



Gray Matters
2014 l 1 hr 12 mins

This film explores the long, fascinating life and complicated career of architect and designer Eileen Gray, whose uncompromising vision defined and defied the practice of modernism in decoration, design and architecture. Making a reputation with her traditional lacquer work in the first decade of the 20th century, she later became a critically-acclaimed and sought after designer and decorator before reinventing herself as an architect, a field in which she laboured largely in obscurity. 

Apart from the accolades that greeted her first building (persistently and perversely credited to her mentor [Jean Badovici]), her pioneering work was done quietly, privately and to her own specifications. But she lived long enough to be re-discovered and acclaimed. Today, with her work commanding extraordinary prices and attention, her legacy, like the artist herself, remains elusive, contested, and compelling.

Watch it on Kanopy



Precise Poetry: Lina Bo Bardi’s Architecture
2013 l 53 mins

“I am an architect. I break walls!” –Lina Bo Bardi

A film about the renowned Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi, who created poetry through architectural precision. Told in a series of interviews in Portuguese with English subtitles on the eve of what would have been her 100th birthday, Bo Bardi’s colleagues and friends recount the sociopolitical constraints and personal events that would lead to the timelessness of her work. 

This cinematic journey through her most important architectural projects in Sao Paulo and Salvador da Bahia poses the question of what remains of a person in the work they leave behind. 

Watch it on Kanopy



Studio Gang Architects: Aqua Tower
2009 l 26 mins

Chicago is famous for its role in fostering modern architecture, owing to the legacy of Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 1900s, and Mies van der Rohe in the mid-20th Century. Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang, gave the epithet “Chicago School” a new meaning. 

This 2009 film documents the impact Gang has had in Chicago’s landscape through an exploration of her built work, including the striking Aqua tower, an 82-story apartment tower that soars within Chicago’s celebrated skyline. Featuring interviews with Jeanne Gang as well as the Chicago Tribune’s architectural critic Blair Kamin, the film also takes visitors to the award-winning “Brick Weave House” (2009) and the SOS Children’s Village Lavezzorio Community Centre (2008), both designed by Studio Gang.

Watch it on Kanopy



A Day with Zaha Hadid
2005 l 57 mins

In this 2015 documentary, late Iraqui British architect Zaha Hadid discusses her current work while taking the camera through her retrospective exhibition “Zaha Hadid has Arrived” at Vienna’s MAK, a museum for design and contemporary art. The centerpiece is a sculptural work entitled “Ice Storm” especially created for the exhibition. 

“Zaha Hadid has Arrived” is a brilliant review of her progress through the last decade and includes: her museums of contemporary art in Rome and Cincinnati, the BMW plant in Leipzig, the Bergisel Ski Jump in Innsbruck and the Science Center in Wolfsburg, among others. Zaha Hadid, who passed away in 2016, was the first woman and Muslim to receive the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004 and the Royal Institute of British Architect’s Stirling Prize.

Watch it on Kanopy

About the TSA Playlist

The TSA Playlist is a monthly curated list of free online films touching upon issues of architecture, the built environment and design. Our thematic lists do more than just entertain; they inspire us, enrich us, and challenge our perspectives helping bring the conversation of the built environment to new audiences and encourage conversation and debate.

Have a suggestion of a film or theme you would like to see featured? Let us know at tsa@torontosocietyofarchitects.ca

Be sure to also check out the past editions of the TSA Playlist!

June l Outdoors

July l O Canada





September l Community Shorts

How to access the Playlist

Our TSA Playlist films are available free of charge for online screening through a number of streaming services in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond including Kanopy, TVO and Hoopla. Our monthly list includes viewing links on platforms available in the region. Some of these streaming services might require you to have a free library or university card to access the service. See list below for where these streaming services are available.

Kanopy is currently available through the following library systems and universities in southern Ontario: Toronto PL, Hamilton PL, Oshawa PL (until July 3), Stratford PL, Newmarket PL, Whitby PL, London PL, Guelph PL, University of Toronto, Ryerson University, University of Waterloo, George Brown College, Seneca College, Centennial College and Sheridan College. If you don’t see your library listed, you can verify if your library has made Kanopy available here. Got a university card instead? You can check if your university has made Kanopy available here.

Hoopla is currently available through the following library systems and universities in southern Ontario: Barrie PL, Kingston PL, Mississauga PL, Kitchener PL, Niagara Falls PL, Peterborough PL and Orillia PL.