The Vast Minority


With whom: Kerem Erginoğlu, Vardiya project curatorial team and participants
When: 2018

On 24-30 September, we organized a workshop called “The Vast Minority”* as a part of Vardiya (the Shift) project in 16th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale Di Venezia Pavilion Of Turkey. For the 10th Vardiya workshop, together with Kerem Erginoğlu, we designed a study that explores and discusses the past and present of the social and mass housing issue and aims to produce ideas about its future. To date, we have not conducted a study on the housing issue, except for a few limited requests, but this has been a topic we have been working on for a long time. We shaped the workshop according to the suggestion by Kerem Piker, curator of Pavillion of Turkey, has led us to our start thinking, asking questions and doing research. The main example of the workshop was the social housing project of Italian architect Giancarlo De Carlo on the island of Mazzorbo in Venice. Since February, we have aimed to create a learning environment for the productions that we intend to continue in the future, not only for Vardiya period.

Before the workshop, we started searching for answers to our questions in two different ways. The first was to access written resources on the past and present of housing issue, based on Giancarlo de Carlo’s rhetoric and housing production practices. While these resources are important for us to learn and to produce more questions, they became a reading package that we will share with the participants during the workshop. This package enlarged with passages from the texts of Giancarlo De Carlo and other writers and the timetable of Carlo’s work, as well as project cards for different housing examples from around the world.

Another way to find answers to our questions before the workshop was to establish direct contacts. Our conversations with people from different professions on the subject, were documented as video interviews. İhsan Bilgin; helped us to understand the current relation of architect with the housing issue, which was born during the Industrial Revolution, by feeding examples from the world and our country. Ersen Gürsel explained the historical development and approaches of architects to the issue in Turkey and has enriched the subject with examples from his own productions. Tolga Bıyıklıoğlu tried to shed light on the dynamics of house production and property in our country through marketing and investment relations with the transformation of the house into a commodity. Alastair Parvin criticized the current situation through land-housing-finance relations and expressed his views on the possibility of a more democratic and participatory housing production environment where new technologies and conventional production organizations are blended. In the interviews held with Kemal Özmen and Assemble, cooperatives and common ownership structures were discussed as civil organization structures in different geographies. In the interviews conducted with Alberto Chechetto and Giancarlo de Carlo Associati, the participant methods followed by Giancarlo de Carlo, which are considered as the basic example of the workshop, were examined. By sharing all these productions with the participants before Vardiya, we aimed to make the participants ready for the workshop and to take this experience further. You can watch our video interviews here.

The workshop started with discussions on reading package, interviews and collage productions of the participants. Tarsha Finney’s presentation about innovative housing projects aiming to be applicable instead of “uniqueness”, Alastair Parvin’s presentation about financing with housing production through Wikihouse example and Rusty Smith’s presentation about understanding of Rural Studio’s architecture education practice and on the 20k Houses project enriched the discussions. Isra Assaf’s, one of the participants, presentation on the reconstruction of the Nahr El Bahred refugee camp in Palestine also drew attention on humanitarian issues. In addition to the online roundtable speeches by Katia Truijen and Melike Altınışık in which they presented sections from their own works with the general theme and purpose of the Biennial, Juhani Pallasmaa’s impressive presentation on the art-architecture relationship and ways of experiencing were recorded as efficient contributions of Vardiya team to the workshop.

The Vast Minority workshop, in which 9 architecture students from different universities of the world were directly involved in all discussions and productions and turned the executive-participant positions upside down, continued with brief interviews on social housing with the international visitors coming to see Vardiya. The interviews were combined in a 1.5-hour video at the end of the workshop. A timetable, which matchs the question cards about the topics of the discussions with the video, was placed in as the permanent exhibition of the 10th Vardiya.

We would like to thank Vardiya project team and Kerem Erginoğlu for their creating an efficient working environment before and during the workshop, the participants for their efforts and Aspen company for their support.

Here you can find the photo album of the workshop.

*The definition used by Cenk Taner for Kesmeşeker fans

“They are a vast minority, they are who not how much”

Participants: Duygu Gökoğlu, Eda Bozkurt, Elif Erez, Elif Ezgi Öztürk, Erkin Yaşar Çerik, Ferhat Çerkeş, Israa Assaf, Ronay Barış Civas, Sinan Birsel, Utku Karakaya, Herkes İçin Mimarlık (Dilara Kara, Elif Tan, Emre Gündoğdu, Merve Gül Özokcu, Sarper Takkeci) + Kerem Erginoğlu