Special Issue "Contemporary Architecture from the 20th Century to the Present"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2017)
Prof. Marco Sosa
Assistant Professor, College of Arts and Creative Enterprises, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Website | E-Mail
Interests: How can architects instigate processes for generating architectural typologies as tools to empower and promote self sufficiency. Exhibition design. Photography as a tool for archiving modern architecture heritage; co-funding of a research unit (with architect Lina Ahmad), dedicated to prompting creative solutions and delivering products and spatial proposals within United Arab Emirates community. Keywords: interior design; photography; design by making
The term ‘contemporary architecture’ tends to be used to describe the architecture of today and the urban environment of now; the present. Generally, it conjures images of beautifully-designed architecture, clean, glossy, and unattached to a movement or style, but is also global and non-regional. Yet, what is the architecture of now? What defines a particular contemporary movement to earn it the distinction to be referred as “contemporary”?
The 15th Venice Architectural Biennale 2016 is titled “Reporting from the Front”, and curated by architect Alejandro Aravena. The title and theme conjure visions of an investigation of a type architecture, gravitating towards the ethical, the humanitarian, and the sustainable. Is this another, often unreported, side of contemporary architecture acting a collective activist movement for the build environment? Architects and designers are looking at the state of the world and responding accordingly. Their voices, expressed in their design intentions are echoes of a quiet movement, which is socially, culturally, and environmentally responsible. An architecture, which is of the people, for the people.
Authors are invited to contribute, to challenge the definition of contemporary architecture and to suggest new perceptions and visions. Themes of papers, which will be considered, are:
- On the historical development of socially responsible architecture theories.
- Studies showcasing pedagogical methods in current architecture/design education.
- Analysis or case studies of methods of looking and researching the current built environment and their responses, from artists, architects, urban planers, NGOs, Activists, Animators, graphic designers, musicians, photographers, and historians.
- Case studies illustrating research carried out in specific conditions/sites, and their architectural/design proposals; built or un-built.
Marco Sosa, Architect
Manuscript Submission Information
Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.
Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.
Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.
Author: Murat Germen
Title: Ankara: From Pioneering Modernism To Revivalist Mimicry
Concept Text: Urban development in populated cities has always been problematic in Turkey, especially in Istanbul. Since migrants from the countryside were not offered decent places to live at first, they started to take shelter in illegal urban squatter settlements known as “gecekondu”, usually located at the perimeter of the city and later legalized (but never improved) with the ulterior motive of collecting votes. The new legal version for the supply of housing are either the social housing projects built by TOKI (Mass Housing Administration of Turkey) which tuck people into inhumanely dense high-rise building blocks; or lavish gated communities of low and / or high-rises conceived and built for richer people by closely connected pro-government construction companies. High-rises and gated communities that detach people from the street life are oddly presented as prestigious domiciles with English names to create aura.
Turkey is a country where major earthquakes took and are to take place. The new construction rush was named ‘urban transformation’ by the government and the claim was to replace the worn building stock that could not survive strong earthquakes. As the transformation moved forward, it turned out this building activity was intended more for excessive profit and not for better urban environments. The construction practice is not necessarily concentrated in areas where you urgently need better quality construction for earthquake resistance, but rather in popular neighborhoods where the real estate prices are the highest. Housing prices are way too expensive, even internationally; and this paved the way towards long-term mortgage deals. This, in addition to substantial credit card debts as the result of relentless shopping frenzy, turned the majority of the nation (that is already somewhat traditionally submissive) into hostages of a depleting economic order where authority is not questioned.
The buildings to be demolished, in order to facilitate new construction, were acquired with substandard prices; flats in newer and higher buildings that replaced the old ones were sold at tenfold higher prices or more. Inhabitants of gentrified neighborhoods ended up being losers in the game, losing their properties, neighborhoods and memories. In addition to such individual losses, cities of high historical significance were damagingly affected by this ruthless construction activity. The skylines of various neighborhoods in Istanbul started to be disrupted by skyscrapers; small communal green areas, parks and small-scale humane streets are uncompromisingly sacrificed for inhumane building projects. Though the typical alliance of state and real estate developers claims to be conservative, not much is conserved at the end; cities as we remember, integral values, traditional urban corners, natural resources are all gone. This can be shortly described as “erasing memory”: Locations, buildings and sometimes even streets in your, parents’ and grandparents’ stories, recollections, mental mappings disappear; we get disoriented in many senses.
On the other hand, if we compare “gecekondu”s with the new high-rise housing typology, though the flats in the newly constructed buildings offer a more sanitary environment; gecekondus were more humane in scale, had more natural green / public space in between in such a way that street life and neighborhood relations could be generated, sustained. In gated communities and ‘skyscraping’ residences, people get detached from each other as they can only see each other either in elevators or in landscaped public areas where they cannot spend much time due to constantly busy work habits. In short; the new urbanism has changed the manner people interacted with each other.
Though there are many private companies, holdings that invest in research and development, Turkey does not pioneer in innovation. Most technologies are imported from abroad and so are practices of using them, experiences, theories, terminologies and common sense or discourse involved. Since the entire logic of professional practice is imported, shallow localization attempts are not enough to end up with an original, novel approach. Fashion, design, art trends are mostly not generated locally, but rather exist as adapted versions of the dominating global movements. This is one of the reasons why shallow revivalist attempts to supposedly glorify the past through eclectic yet baseless interim solutions end up being merely pastiche.
An urban culture is shaped by the indigenous productions coming from various areas of making such as fine arts, literature, performance arts, gastronomy, folkloric traditions and so on. In addition to providing the necessary grounds for such production; cities archive, preserve, and share the outcomes through a range of institutions like museums, NGOs, foundations, institutes and the rest. Sole construction of high-rise housing, shopping malls, roads cannot be considered “urban.” If a place does not generate culture but consumption only, it is not proper to define this place as a city. If the makers of culture are threatened uninterruptedly by conservative administrations, the city stops being urban and turns into a huge rural conglomeration that creates a quasi-urban fake popular culture.
One detrimental habit in Turkish culture is that masses, individuals, administrations and organizations that follow the preceding ones, are usually destructive of what has been done previously, in order to build their own instead. Decent deeds performed by earlier generations can easily be destroyed by the newer ones just because the present hegemons have different ideological, cultural, religious opinions. Following generations do not prefer to build or add a brick onto what has already been built. This causes disconnections between the various components, legacies and peers of Turkish culture and therefore leads to antagonism among members of a nation. The amazingly layered and substantial heritage, as a consequence, cannot be sustained as a rich entity, but rather remains limited to prevalent bigoted prejudices. While the ever-separated components of society devoid of any respect and unity argue with each other, capital wins. State institutions, corporations are powerful and dominant; society of independent and free individuals cannot emerge…
A healthy cultural transformation is only possible with; components of society who respect each other, administrations who consult their citizens, conscious and responsible individuals, visionary developers who prefer long term benefit with quality over short term profit with off-grade construction. Collaboration that stretch across neighboring states and nations in other continents, in addition to a plurality adopted by all members of society in Turkey, will prepare the grounds that will allow us to construct a popular culture that has a truer local character and also convincingly robust enough to be able to contribute to global culture.