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Artist Talk and Reception

Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Sibley Dome John Hartell Gallery

Esra Akcan, Open Architecture: A Book on Migration

Open Architecture: A Book on Migration is an exhibition that invites the audience into a scholar's world. Rather than showing archival documents or architects' drawings as in a curated exhibition on a historical topic, it brings together original mapping, video, and photo installations that were produced along with the research and for the publication of the author's book on the topic. The urban renewal in Berlin's immigrant neighborhood Kreuzberg was carried out by IBA 1984/87, which was one of the most important architectural events of the 1980s, and where major aesthetic and intellectual shifts of the period materialized as state-subsidized housing in the historical city. In the context of the discriminatory housing laws and regulations instituted by the Berlin Senate, the 11-person Neubau team appointed around 200 international architectural firms to provide 4,500 new apartments, while the 39-person Altbau team appointed around 140 mostly local architectural offices to renovate 5,000 existing apartments and support 700 self-help projects. The research presented here discusses Kreuzberg's urban renewal by giving voice not only to the architects and policymakers but also to the immigrant inhabitants. It asks what would have happened if the architectural discipline and profession were shaped by new ethics of hospitality toward immigrants, and calls this open architecture.

Esra Akcan is Frieda Miller Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2019-20), and an associate professor in the Department of Architecture at Cornell University. She completed her architecture degree at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey, and her Ph.D. and postdoctoral degrees at Columbia University in New York. She taught at UI-Chicago, Humboldt University in Berlin, Columbia University, New School, and Pratt Institute in New York, and METU in Ankara. Akcan received awards from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University, Canadian Center for Architecture, Graham Foundation, American Academy in Berlin, UIC, Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin, Clark Institute, Getty Research Institute, CAA, Mellon Foundation, DAAD, and KRESS/ARIT. 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 exhibition is sponsored by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies/Institute for European Studies with support from 2012 Istanbul Design Biennale, KNAM Media, Department of Architecture, and AAP-IT Solutions.

Exhibition Team:

Concept, Research and Works: Esra Akcan

Exhibition design: Esra Akcan, Jordan Christopher Berta, Hallie Black

Design of video booths for “Couplings”: Hallie Black

Post-production of “Couplings”: Emine Seda Kayım, M. Can Tanyeli

Layout of “Urban Renewal”: Jordan Christopher Berta

Graphic design of “Table of Contents”: Esra Akcan, Justin Foo

Print and mounting of “Freedom of Information”: KNAM Media

Print of “Table of Contents,” “Urban Renewal”, “Mercator Grid”: AAP-ADMS

Transportation: Michael Moynihan

Installation: Esra Akcan, Jordan Christopher Berta, Ekin Bilal, Eda Begüm Birol, Hallie Black, Selin Cebel, Karolina Piorko


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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Architecture, Art, Cornell Institute for European Studies

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