Women Building Brazil (WBB) seeks to underscore women's contributions to architecture and construction in Brazil, particularly in contexts of self-building. Its main objective is to address the neglect of both women and informal building practices in architectural and construction history, especially in the global South. The project will tackle that double historical gap by gathering personal stories and documentation on women builders. Its premise is that women's involvement in self-construction was actually quite common in vernacular architecture but has been affected by the introduction of new building technologies and materials. Expanding our disciplinary scope to include vernacular contexts, WBB employs a novel method combining oral history with disruptive archival research methods and community-based participatory practices, guided by feminist and decolonial principles. This approach will be applied in three territories in Brazil where self-building remains a prevalent custom: quilombos (afro-Brazilian communities), indigenous territories and favelas (urban informal settlements). These distinct settings offer new insights to help recover, analyse, and acknowledge women's construction know-how. The outcomes of WBB include an oral history archive and a public video collection. The participatory process will also generate a memory artefact, co-created with interviewed women with the purpose of recognizing their expertise and strengthening their building autonomy. In summary, WBB offers a new methodological approach to a growing field of construction history and a gendered analysis that contributes to the broader discipline of architectural history. It maintains a commitment to open science through its research methodology and participatory practices, ensuing constant dissemination of its results. Most importantly, WBB actively seeks ways of empowering women in construction, giving them voice and reaffirming the relevance of their know-how.


Promotor: Inge Bertels

Promotor: Lara Schrijver

Researcher: Marianne Moura

Funding: EU Marie Curie Post-doctoral fellowship


2024 - 2026