Helen Stratford

Helen Stratford

Practice: Helen Stratford
Established: 1999
City: Ely
Country: United Kingdom
www.urbancollaboratory.net/
contact@urbancollaboratory.net

Helen Stratford is a practising architect and artist. Educated at Cambridge, Sheffield and Nottingham Universities, she worked in leading London and Cambridge practices before joining MOLE architects in 2005.
Helen's own practice draws on architecture, writing and performance - focusing on facilitating critical/creative ways for rethinking the built environment; exploring the role everyday surroundings, objects and activities play in supporting ways of being and placing. Resident fellow in architecture, Akademie Solitude,Stuttgart 2004/5 and studio artist at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, she was a selected artist for escalator visual arts 2010.
A member of feminist architecture/art collective taking place, and research practice urban (col)laboratory, Helen's work/research has formed the basis of many spoken papers, performances, exhibitions, publications and presentations at international conferences and events, including Wysing Arts Centre, ICA and Tate Modern, London, Centraltheater and Opera House, Leipzig, Akademie Solitude, Stuttgart and École des Beaux Arts, Paris.

Helen Stratford

Mechanical operations in Cambourne, 2009
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'Not Building' was a 6-month residency at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (UK) that provided a playful critique of the measured and manicured environment distinctive to the nearby 'new village' of Cambourne. A publication, 'Mechanical Operations in Cambourne', extended planning diagrams to the everyday and unmapped activities that produce and maintain Cambourne's open spaces. At the same time a series of site-specific interventions built on hidden amenities made present through planning anomolies.(wysingartscentre.org/artists/145)

Mechanical operations in Cambourne, 2009
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Do you think our profession is diverse enough? No, in fact the attitude to diversity and difference needs to be critically examined. At the gendersite launch on in October 2009 Ruth Reed, first woman RIBA President, gave a speech in which difference came across as an inequality or disability to be solved. In contemporary feminism difference is recast as a means by which to critically engage with practice. We need to explore strategies by which this recasting can critically work with mainstream architectural practice.
Who are your role models who inspire you? Catherine Cooke, architect and internationally renowned Russian scholar; Mierle Laderman Ukeles, artist known for her feminist and service-oriented artwork; Doina Petrescu, Reader in Architecture at Sheffield University, founder of Atelier d'architecture Autogérée; Jane Rendell, Professor in Architecture and Art, Director of Architectural Research, the Bartlett School, UCL; Sarah Wigglesworth, director of Sarah Wigglesworth Architects.
If you could change one thing in our profession, what would it be? To make gender studies a constitutive part of the curriculum in schools of architecture in order to open up the discussion from a focus on women to many different groups that can find strategies and tools that relate to their specific issues.