Place-less Workshop


For whom: Children living in Gaziantep, university students
With whom: UMÖB 15.5
When: 2016

In scope of 15.5 UMÖB | GZNTP (National Meeting of Architecture Students, Gaziantep) event, on 24-31 January 2016, we carried out a workshop called ‘Place-less’, derived from the main theme of the assembly defined as ‘Momentum’ for 15.5 UMÖB | GZNTP. More than 100 participants attended to 10 simultaneous workshops that was carried out for a week. The participants stayed in the dormitories of ‘Credit and Dormitories Institution and the workshops took place in historical places in the city center like the synagogue and The War Museum.

The scope of the workshop ‘Place-less’ was designated within the theme of ‘Momentum’, focusing on the contemporary socio-cultural status in Gaziantep related to the theme of immigration, that is determined as the new field of study by the association. Through the research for the workshop realization, collaborating with the non-profit organizations and activists in Gaziantep, we gathered information about how different cultures are concentrated in neighborhoods in Gaziantep, whether the camps are the places to study, what parts of Syria (rural or urban) did the migrants came from, how can the language barrier be overcome, what are the ethics and availability of working with children and what are the pedagogical and psychological approaches to communicate with the victims of the war. According to the information we gathered, reflecting on the limits and communication of the goal, a five-day workshop was carried out in the city center with children, on the theme ‘game’.

While announcing the theme of the year, the UMÖB | GZNTP team put forward some questions as ‘While building the immobile do we limit our mobile identities?’, ‘Constantly accelerating, do we transform into a mass, develop an identity and belong to structures and then to cities?’ Adopting this point of view we decided not to develop an approach according to nationalities and to Gaziantep only. Accordingly in the workshop ‘Place-less’, within the theme ‘game’, we brought together children both from Gaziantep and Syria and experimented on participatory learning without communicating the same language.

On the first day of the workshop, in order for the team to socialize and unite, we started with playing the games that were experienced in the assembly last year with 4 members of HiM and 13 students from different universities. As well as playing the games, we debated on the living conditions of Syrian immigrants not only in Gaziantep but in Turkey in general. On the second day we joined the excursion organized by the UMÖB committee and visited Türktepe Neighborhood which is a neighborhood on the edge of the center and meet the children living there. Together with the children of the neighborhood coming from different places, we played games first initiated by us, then the children in the playground. In a short while other children attended the game too. At night, before and after the workshop presentations in the synagogue, the workshop team played those games with the other participant students and widened the knowledge on the issue.

On top of this experience, reading some passages from Johan Huzinga’s  ‘Homo Ludens’, we debated on how playing game suspends life temporarily in terms of space and time, how it holds unseriousness counter intuitively, how it creates a ground for bringing diverse characters together, how it includes both told and untold rules and how a team declares autonomy while playing a game. Moving on from these debates, we experienced different locations in Gaziantep by instantaneous games, creating temporary game-sites with unaware audiences in it. We have decided working on how to involve the unaware audience in the game, how to transfer a game without a common language, how to unite players that don’t know each other out of the game- moment and thus create commons.

On the third day, we met the officers of Malumat Society Informing Center which was established in Gaziantep in order to provide the public with accurate and accessible information. The meeting helped us grasp the conditions and difficulties the Syrian immigrants face in Gaziantep and Turkey in general and that the important point is to adopt an approach that will bring together everyone. We also have been debating on prejudices, the miscommunication that different languages create, and the negative effects of not being familiar to each other, and these debates triggered developments in fictions of games we designed. At the park in front of the Şehreküstü Konakları’-one of the venues of the workshop- at the city center, we had the chance to experience the newly generated games played with rope, cardboard and nylon that puts the joy first instead of competition and score. We also had a half-an-hour painting activity in the park.

During the Workshop, in diverse places of the city we played games called Ninja, Düğüm, Ev-Misafir, Peçete Koparmaca, Kılıç-Kalkan, Heceleme, Denge, Zip-Zep, Ebeli Yer Değiştirmece with different teams. Also we designed games called Naylon Brando, Sofra, Sopalı Ninja ve Metanet. The workshop was well- documented, photographs  were taken, videos were shot and graphics were produced in order to communicate the process. The workshop ended up with the presentation in Zeugma Museum.

The photos of the workshop is available here.

Thanks to the UMÖB committee for their hospitality, to participants and all the children who played games with us in spite of the cold weather.

Workshop participants: Araf Öykü Türken, Ali Semen, Büşra Akıncı, Can Metin, Ceren Sözer, Dilara Yılmaz, Emre Gündoğdu, Hazal Öztürk, İhsan Alamo, Merve Gül Özokcu, Özge Zeynep Öcal, Pınar Kalaycı, Sema Yıldız, Sinem Aydoğdu, Şizen Türkal, Tuğba Cerav, Tutku Tunç


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