In the 1950s, married women in the Netherlands were assimilated into the fixed ideal of heteronormative family and traditional family housing standards which were the norm; single women were not. Single women represented not only a separate category in post-Second World War society but also a stigmatised one. What was a woman without a man? Women were simply not expected to live alone. In the mid-twentieth century, however, high-rise residential projects were designed to enable women to live independently. Over a period of more than thirty years, Dutch women’s organisations and pioneering women architects made a key contribution to collaboratively develop emancipatory and innovative residential projects in the country’s biggest cities. In 1948, the Elisabeth Brugsma Foundation commissioned the architectural office Pot & Pot-Keegstra to build the Elisabeth Brugsmaflat in The Hague. The process was difficult, and took a long time, before the Elisabeth Brugsmaflat finally opened its doors in 1958. It was an important step to the progressive normalisation of women living independently, and also contributed to the improvement of housing standards for all.

The Journal of Architecture, 2023.

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