Open architecture : migration, citizenship and urban renewal

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Organised by the Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University; Co-organised by Hong Kong Arts Centre

Event Title

Lingnan University 50th Anniversary Lecture Series (2017-2018) : Inter-disciplinary Lectures on Culture and Society x HKAC Art Shop Inspiration Series

Document Type

Public Lecture




6:00 p.m. -- 8:00 p.m.


Eric Hotung Studio, Hong Kong Arts Centre (2 Harbour Road, Wan Chai)


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 the inclinations towards open architecture (or the lack thereof) in the context of the discriminatory housing regulations of an urban renewal development in Berlin’s immigrant neighbourhood Kreuzberg. This urban renewal was undertaken by IBA-1984/87, which invited many established and emerging architects to build public housing here, including Bohigas/Mackay/Martorell Architects, Peter Eisenman, Vittorio Gregotti, Zaha Hadid, John Hejduk, Rem Koolhaas, Rob Krier, Aldo Rossi, Alvaro Siza, Frei Otto, Oswald Mathias Ungers, and many other understudied architects whose due acknowledgment is given with this research. Giving voice not only to architects and policy makers, but also to residents through oral history and storytelling, the overarching theme of noncitizen rights to the city allows for a joint discussion of the history of the twentieth-century public housing, the participatory, postmodernist and poststructuralist architectural debates, and the contradictory relation between international immigration laws and housing.


Esra Akcan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture and the Director of the Institute for European Studies at Cornell University. Akcan’s research on modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism foregrounds the intertwined histories of Europe and West Asia. She is the author of Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey and the Modern House (Duke, 2012); Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (Reaktion, 2012, with Sibel Bozdoğan) and Open Architecture: Migration, Citizenship and the Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg by IBA-1984/87 (Birkhäuse, 2018). Akcan has also authored over a hundred articles in scholarly books and professional journals of multiple languages on critical and postcolonial theory, modern and contemporary architecture in West Asia and its diasporas in Europe, architectural photography, immigration, translation, neoliberalism, globalization and global history. She received awards from the Graham Foundation, American Academy in Berlin, UIC, Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin (Transregional Studies Forum), Clark Institute, Getty Research Institute, Canadian Center for Architecture, CAA, Mellon Foundation, DAAD, KRESS/ARIT and Columbia University.


Roberto Castillo is an Assistant Professor at the Cultural Studies Department of Lingnan University. His academic training is in Cultural Studies, International Relations, History and Journalism (Ph.D., Lingnan; MA, Usyd). For the last several years, he has been working around foreign communities and urban spaces/politics in the southern Chinese cities of Guangzhou and Hong Kong. His research/teaching interests are: transnationality; migration and mobility; China’s changing ethnoscapes; Africa-China relations; (cultural) research methodologies; the cultural politics of media representation; race/ethnicity; critical theory; and Chinese politics & social development. He administers the website:



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Recommended Citation

Akcan, E. (2018). Open architecture: Migration, citizenship and urban renewal [Video podcast]. Retrieved from