Writing Open Architecture as a book on Human Rights (and against Nation-States)


  • Esra Akcan Cornell University




Drawing on the author’s book Open Architecture, this essay studies the relation between migration and architecture as a matter of human rights, and thereby exposes the historical roots of contemporary racisms, while giving due acknowledgment to the Black and Brown migrants in the making of even the most established European architectural projects. This analysis not only exposes the weaknesses of a world order predicated on the limited and constructed idea of the nation-state, but also outlines architecture’s ways to build resistance through the concept of openness. Defining open architecture as a new ethic of welcoming toward the immigrant, the essay alludes to the formal, programmatic and procedural aspects of latent open architecture, such as flexibility and adaptability of form, collectivity and collaboration, participatory processes, and multiplicity of meaning.

Author Biography

Esra Akcan, Cornell University

Esra Akcan is a Professor and the Michael A. McCarthy Professor of Architectural Theory in the Department of Architecture at Cornell University. Akcan received awards and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University, Graham Foundation (three times), the Canadian Center for Architecture (twice), 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; Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey and the Modern House; Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (with S.Bozdoğan); Open Architecture: Migration, Citizenship and the Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg by IBA-1984/87, and Abolish Human Bans: Intertwined Histories of Architecture.


For bibliography on IBA-1984/87, please see Open Architecture.

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