Program Date: December 8, 2022
What do we really mean when we say, “the Mediterranean?” This is not a rhetorical question, but a deeply political one, concerning the present and the past on the one hand, and architectural practice and history on the other. For instance, when we say Mediterranean unity, we may have in mind the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s failed top-down the Union for the Mediterranean project (2008); or the actualized grassroots unification of the region through uprisings and occupations that began with the Arab Spring (2011–2013). Likewise, when we think about contemporary Mediterranean architecture, we may well be thinking about projects such as Bernard Tschumi’s Acropolis Museum and Renzo Piano’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, each forming an imaginative dialogue with the topography and architectural heritage of Athens; or about the social housing projects on the shores of the Mediterranean. Many of those could not help but abandon creativity for the sake of immediate practical concerns, or their architects imagined a “localized” form of modernism following post(colonial) political agendas. Finally, when we discuss cross-culturality in the architectural and urban history of the Mediterranean, we may be simply focusing on monuments with visibly shared tectonic or formal elements; or we may also have in our purview the vernacular and the ephemeral—sites of different kinds of shared histories that have rarely left visible residues.
This panel explores practices of writing history and making architecture along these and similar spectrums. In order to investigate the Mediterranean and its strong global connectivities throughout history, it focuses just as much on failures and shortcomings as on successes and breakthroughs. Hence, it is intended to provide a critical perspective on a region whose name has become synonymous with multiculturalism. The panel features four short presentations by four panelists specialized on diverse aspects of Mediterranean architecture, culture, and identity. Together we will inquire into the ways in which architectural and urban historians, design students, and practitioners across the Mediterranean and/or of the Mediterranean could increase their efforts to learn from each other and dwell on the local knowledges produced in various cities. The session concludes with a Q/A session and discussion.
Co-chairs and Moderators:
Kıvanç Kılınç, IYTE
Saygin Salgirli, UBC
Howayda Al-Harithy, AUB
Sheila Crane, University of Virginia
Ziad Jamaleddine, L.E.FT Architects, Columbia GSAPP
Abbey Stockstill, Meadows School of the Arts