The Jaap Bakema Study Centre is pleased to announce Esra Akcan as keynote speaker for the Jaap Bakema Study Centre conference 2019 Architecture and Democracy 1965-1989: Urban Renewal, Populism and the Welfare State.
“Who were these men, who
built these kinds of streets? These houses,
these walls that come out of each other,
these roofs fallen over the top of another,
these sleepy windows under the roofs
that face the pumps on street edges?
Who were they, with their diggers and shovels,
with their rulers, who built all these?
If they knew these were for us
surely they would have done differently: opening the window
the sky would have filled inside forthwith…
Facades of flats facing the Naunynstrasse
have turned their asses to you,
like deaf transportation workers
indifferent to the loads they carry.”
Aras Ören, Berlin Üçlemesi (Istanbul: Remzi Kitabevi, 1980), 82-83 and 214 (translated by Esra Akcan, 2018).
This excerpt from a poem by Aras Ören opens the fourth chapter of Esra Akcan’s recent book, Open Architecture: Migration, Citizenship and the Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg. The poem addresses the conditions faced by the inhabitants of the Kreuzberg district in Berlin, and their everyday struggles.Akcan’s research explores the concept of ‘open architecture’ through the thorough investigation of the urban renewal of Kreuzberg, Berlin’s immigrant neighbourhood, in the 1980s. Her work gives a rare insight into the intimate spaces of the often-silenced non-citizen, the refugee resident, by combining historical research with interviews and architectural reflection. By recounting the interlocking histories of architects, policy makers and residents, she will share her ideas on open architecture as radical democracy.
Esra Akcan is Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture and the Director of the Institute for European Studies at Cornell University, New York. She has taught in Chicago, Berlin, New York and Ankara. She is the author of Landfill Istanbul: Twelve Scenarios for a Global City (2004); Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey and the Modern House (2012); Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (with S. Bozdoğan, 2012), and Open Architecture: Migration, Citizenship and Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg by IBA 1984/87 (2018).
The visit of Esra Akcan is made possible by the International Visitors Programme of Het Nieuwe Instituut with support from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.