Why Was a Pioneering Israeli Architect Erased From the Pages of History?

Lotte Cohn and other prominent architects designed buildings that have become an integral part of the Israeli landscape. But unlike their male colleagues, they remain unknown to the public and are ignored in academia

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Lotte Cohn. You won’t find the work of Israel’s first female architect in the permanent exhibitions of any museum in the country.
Lotte Cohn. You won’t find the work of Israel’s first female architect in the permanent exhibitions of any museum in the country. Credit: Courtesy of the family
Sigal Davidi
Sigal Davidi

The architect Charlotte (Lotte) Cohn arrived in Jerusalem from Berlin in late 1921. As only the third woman to be awarded a degree in architecture from the Technical University of Berlin, Cohn was also a pioneer of architecture in Mandatory Palestine. The architectural profession was a bastion of male hegemony worldwide; women were considered unsuited for architecture because of the intellectual requirements and physical abilities it called for. It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that they began to be admitted to technical universities in Europe. Even then, when they sought employment as architects, they encountered barriers and conservative views about their professional ability. One concern was that women would occupy lucrative jobs, thus denying men these opportunities.

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