"Open Architecture: Migration, Citizenship and the Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg", Prof. Esra Akcan (Cornell University)

Alte Universität, Hall 001, Rheinsprung 9/11

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 neighborhood composed of almost fifty percent noncitizens who had arrived as guest workers or refugees. This urban renewal is analyzed 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.

Esra Akcan is Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at Cornell University. She completed her architecture degree at METU in Turkey, and her Ph.D and postdoctoral degrees at Columbia University in New York. Her research and teaching brings forth the intertwined histories of Europe and West Asia, cosmopolitan ethics and justice, migration and participation, as well as writing “global” histories of architecture and urbanism. Akcan received numerous awards and fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin, University of Illinois at Chicago, Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin, Graham Foundation, Clark Institute, Getty Research Institute, Canadian Center for Architecture, CAA, Mellon Foundation, DAAD and KRESS/ARIT. She 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. Her books include Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey and Modern House; Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (with Sibel Bozdoğan); Çeviride Modern Olan; and (Land)Fill Istanbul. Her book Open Architecture is forthcoming at the end of this year.

Co-organized by the G3S, the Seminar of Sociology and the Urban Studies of the University of Basel

This lecture is accompanied by a G3S-Master Class on the same topic, Sep 25-27, 10 am to 4 pm.

Please sign up for the Master Class via email to: guenter.schmidt@unibas.ch