María Novas – 34 jaar

When I moved to the Netherlands in 2016, I was afraid of big cities. I was born in a beautiful town next to the sea in the northwest of Spain, Galicia. That’s where I have always imagined my life, next to my family and friends. Unfortunately, after the crisis in 2008 there were few job opportunities for young people, and more especially for people like us, who had learnt the profession of architecture. By then, I was starting my doctorate in architectural history so when I was accepted to do research in the History of Architecture and Urban Planning group at the TU Delft, I thought ok, this is the right time, and this is the right place. Delft was still big enough, but you could not notice. You can meet familiar faces in the street, and bike or walk to almost every place. I particularly love its libraries. Fair enough, even if there is no sea.

Since I’ve been living here for more than four years, I’ve had the opportunity to not only work, but make good friends. From them I’ve learned the Dutch language, among other things, and a bunch of other international words that I still struggle to retain. Meanwhile, I wrote a book, my Ph.D. is coming to an end, and I can’t wait to release the incredible stories I’ve found during my stay in this place. In my dissertation, I try to unveil the history of women organizations in architecture in the post-war period in the Netherlands: developers of residential buildings for single working women, expert advisors in social housing at the municipalities, etc, etc, etc. I can’t believe how devalued their work has been that has not even been archived, and the difficulties to find information are indeed, a prove of this. I want to think that one of the contributions of my work here is to help to collect and preserve this information for the future, while repairing the outstanding social and political debt of depreciating this type of work traditionally considered “feminine”, just because it was done by women who were not paid.

It is time that the architectural production of knowledge acknowledges the fundamental work of those who have been relegated to the margins. Of those that, because of the gender biased standards of professionalism, have been excluded. Of those that, despite all those barriers, had played an essential role in defining our houses and cities. Even if (for now) we are not completely aware of it.