Virginity remains consequential to the agency, empowerment, and self-possession of women around the world. The concept of virginity is constructed not just at the site of the body, but also in multiscalar architectural operations, in the spaces that mediate between subjects and their desires. The clinic is a site of bodily reinvention, but also production. Interior finishes, collateral objects, and aesthetic protocols aid in the spatial and cultural production of contemporary virginity and sexuality, available in new commodity forms. Beirut in particular—a MENA capital for medical tourism, Arab soap-star beauty, and lingering gender and sexual norms—is a site whose bodily indulgences and corrections converge in the plastic surgery clinic. This project mines the collateral interior spaces and urban appearances of hymenoplastic architecture.

See more about our research on hymenoplastic territories.


Cosmo-Clinical Interiors of Beirut expounds on current architectural discourse surrounding the role of the built environment in shaping subjects, culture and politics. Here, architecture is understood as the confluence of the technological, social, and economic rather than just a built object.

In 2017, women around the world choose or are compelled—by a variety of societal pressures and circumstantial risks—to simulate virginity, a concept still secured by the form of the hymen. These performances in body are enabled by temporary and permanent measures: prosthetic artifacts are manufactured in labs, factories, discrete markets, operating rooms, and private homes, architectures which share in the cultural production of virginity and the presence of its commodity forms. Beirut, Lebanon stands out in its density of these purpose-driven and curiously aestheticized interiors. This project thus maps the hidden architectures of virginity construction in Beirut, an exercise that brings to light the zones of access and the sites of bodily manufacture that coincide in the city.

The landscape of commodified virginity is comprised of connected, masked interiors: a set of medi-cosmetic and vaginoplastic practices, which are purposefully concealed by an assembly of innocuous, every-day building envelopes, secured VPNs, discrete packages, and informal networks of designers, manufacturers, distributors, clinicians, patients/consumers and sometimes even the families of dis/honorable women. Visualizing the spaces of these exchanges—of social capital, self-preservation, and power—illustrates how bodily ideals are operationalized within otherwise abstract registers: among the economic, regulatory, social and familial structures that govern proper relationships between bodies, and often the relationships which serve men's desires at the expense of women's needs.

medical clinics offering cosmetic and gynecological procedures, including hymenoplasty expand map

These desiring interiors are made distinct in their finishes, which convey both medical professionalism and comfort for women seeking modifications. Lobby tile, lounge area textiles, reception signage, and exam room decor all contribute to an aesthetic that attends to and reproduces evolving expectations and aspirations about bodies.

Removed from the public scrutiny of the high street (sites that also reinforce—by way of advertisements and furtive glances—bodily value) women sit together in rooms made for their remaking.

Rather than directly attending to forms already scrutinized by alternately moralizing and sexualizing publics, these represented interiors see the body in relation to the forces that help to shape it. The preoccupation with Arab women's bodies—from the Western obsession with liberating them to the religious imperative to de-sexualize them—are representational concerns that obscure the sites where these conceptualizations are made, where women are disempowered and their choices are delimited.