The Feminist School of Literature takes an untraditional approach to activism, through the intersectional processes of writing. The school translates the concept of ‘silence into language and action’, where empowering writing and literature reads into active engagement through shared learnings and participation in safe protests. Providing an equitable platform for all writers’ tackles the historically and politically structured barriers within the field literature, while demonstrating how these Feminist methodologies can be applied to todays’ personal, social, and wider political contexts to enact systematic changes.
Placing the intangible journey of publishing and activism into the heart of Manchester derived the schools’ ethos and positions. Located on Grafton Street, the site preserves the former home of Emmeline Pankhurst, a listed Feminist archive previously hidden in the complex urban nodal point. With this, the project sympathetically responds to the existing narrative and users of the site, alongside reconnecting with the Pankhurst and building upon its’ programme to transform into a claimable space for communities. At a macro scale, Manchester’s protesters follow the city’s routes through established nodes of protest, to discover a new gathering space in this historic Feminist epicentre.
The programmes contrasting natures, ranging in scale from individual writers to group protesters, is reflected and accommodated through the building forms and landscaping. On a personal level, the interior design embraces Feminist theories and ergonomics to detail inclusive, accessible spaces and experiences for all. Further, the school offers two specific writing retreats that provide an elevated escape from the distracting chaos of the city, ensuring a comfortable focus on writing.
At a wider scale, the projection of activist voices is primarily achieved within the public spaces. Multi-purpose elements compose platforms for political movements, with the overarching landscape design merging all user groups and creating a safe, well-connected streetscape. The public realm intertwines with the architecture through multi-functional stairs leading to the terraces. Continuing this merge, the environmental strategies draw out onto the streetscape to embody a genuine suitability agenda.