HS2017: Esra Akcan, Master Class "Open Architecture - Migration, Citizenship and the Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg"



Instructor: Prof. Esra Akcan, Cornell University

Time: Sep 25, 12pm-5pm, Sep 26-27, 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm

Place: Rheinsprung 21, Room 00.002

Registration: Please register by sending an email to guenter.schmidt@unibas.ch if you are interested in taking this course.





Exploring the implications of the concept of “open” as a common metaphor in the era of global connections, and as a foundational modern value albeit prone to contradictions, this lecture defines open architecture as the translation of a new ethics of hospitality into design process. In particular, it exemplifies different inclinations towards open architecture (or the lack thereof) during the urban renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg (IBA'1984/87), where a large number of established and cutting-edge architects were invited to design public housing in a neighbourhood composed of almost fifty percent noncitizens who had arrived as guest workers or refugees. This urban renewal is analysed in the context of the discriminatory housing regulations in relation to three topics: the history of the twentieth-century public housing; the participatory, postmodernist and poststructuralist architectural debates (c.1965-1990); the contradictory relation between international immigration laws and housing. Giving voice not only to architects and policy makers, but also residents through oral history and storytelling rather than sociology and ethnography, the overarching theme discusses these topics in relation to noncitizen rights to the city, and translates the emerging concept of hospitality in order to define different forms and terms of open architecture.


About The Instructor:

Esra Akcan's research on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism foregrounds the intertwined histories of Europe and West Asia. Her book, Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey and the Modern House (Duke, 2012), offers a new way to understand the global movement of architecture that extends the notion of translation beyond language to visual fields. It advocates a commitment to a new culture of translatability from below and in multiple directions for truly cosmopolitan ethics and global justice. Her book, Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (Reaktion/University of Chicago Press, 2012), coauthored with Sibel Bozdoğan, is part of a series that aims at an inclusive survey of modern world architecture and is the first volume in any language to cover the entire 20th century in Turkey.

Akcan is currently working on her next book on the urban renewal of Berlin's immigrant neighborhood, through which she explores a theory of open architecture. She has received numerous awards and fellowships and has authored more than 100 articles in scholarly books and professional journals in multiple languages. She has also participated in exhibitions as an artist by carrying her practice beyond writing to visual media. She was educated as an architect in Turkey and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University.