Rechtskulturen Colloquium
Mon 23 Jan 2012 | 17:00–19:00

Legal Cities? Urban Renewal and Immigration in Berlin’s IBA 1984/87

Esra Akcan (Rechtskulturen Fellow); Comment: Anna-Bettina Kaiser (Berlin)

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Juristische Fakultät, Room E 25, Unter den Linden 9, 10099 Berlin

World cities at the wake of the twenty-first century hold an ambivalent relation to legality. On the one hand, housing laws and regulations instituted by the city senates and municipalities play a significant role in determining the future of urban architecture, on the other hand, countless informal housing settlements around the world as well as the most exciting street art exist at a slippery slope between legality and illegality.
“This lecture will focus on Berlin-IBA 1984/87 that was justifiably one of the most important architectural events of the late 1970s and 80s, where major aesthetic and intellectual shifts of the period materialized as social housing in the historical city. IBA’s fresh formal ideals were complicated however by the under-discussed fact that it took place in the Turkish immigrant neighborhood of Berlin’s Kreuzberg. I will explore IBA 1984/87 as a micro cosmos of the history of urban housing, the postmodern and deconstructionist debates in architecture, and the relation between housing and immigration policies. Having to operate within the Senate’s immigration laws such as the ‘ban on entry and settlement’ and the ‘desegregation regulation’, IBA’s division into New and Old Building sections ended up generating two quite different responses to these housing policies from the perspective of the ‘foreign guest workers’. I suggest to analyze IBA with an art/architecture historical method that gives voice not only to the architects and policy makers, but also to immigrant inhabitants while setting a distance from sociology and ethnography inspired research in architecture that maintain either positivist convictions or geopolitical divides between the West and its ‘other’." (Esra Akcan)

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