Session C Archive

Young Bauhaus Research Colloquium



Workshop Session C


Peter Christensen
University of Rochester

Historiographic Revisions: The Case of the Ottoman Railway Network.

This paper will examine the opportunities that the digital humanities afford the creation of new types of evidence in the study of architecture and architectural history that serve to challenges ideas of solitary authorship. This paper will demonstrate this opportunity through an instructive case study: the architecture of the Ottoman railway network and the buildings designed by the railway network’s German engineers.
Generic prefabricated building plans modeled on the German Heimatstil and designed by German architects in Frankfurt were, in the earlier years of the network’s development, deployed to remote sites within the empire and adapted in situ by Ottoman labourers. German engineers implementing these designs, supervising an ever-shifting multiethnic labour force, did their best to reconcile the generic blueprints with the specific work site. Meanwhile, the labourers reviewed the blueprints, performing their own form of reconciliation. By virtue of their own notions of what a building should look like, the laborers brought to these buildings their own circumscribed authorial “fingerprints”.
In this paper, I support documentary observations and archival material with a sophisticated digital analysis of 3D scans. Through a process of algorithmically comparing 3D scans of Ottoman railway stations, I posit a new way of understanding the production of serially made cultural artifacts in the study of architectural, social and economic history. The project reasserts the authorial roles of those, like low-level labourers, who may index multi-channel authorships by identifying the subtle differences they made against the platonic models outlined in the hegemonic plans of German origin.

Peter Christensen is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Rochester. His specialization is modern architectural and environmental history, particularly of Germany, Central Europe and the Middle East. He also maintains a strong interest in infrastructure and its history. He explores critical applications of the digital humanities in his research and teaching which includes a major research project entitled “Architectural Biometrics”. His book, Germany and the Ottoman Railways: Art, Empire, and Infrastructure, is forthcoming from Yale University Press.
Peter received his PhD from Harvard University. He has served as Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter at the Technische Universität München (2012–2014). Peter is the recipient of the Philip Johnson Book Award (2010) from the Society of Architectural Historians and grants from the NEH, Fulbright Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), among others. Peter’s writing has appeared in scholarly journals. He is the co-editor of three volumes: Architeturalized Asia: Mapping a Continent Through History (Hong Kong University Press & University of Hawai’i Press, 2013), Instigations (Lars Müller, 2012) and Home Delivery (MOMA, 2008).

Mohamed El-Azzazy
Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The Garden Suburbs of Cairo: The transfer of a British Town Planning Model During the Occupation Period.

In the beginning of the twentieth century, during the British occupation, several residential settlements were established on the periphery of Cairo. Throughout the literature review, this paper reveals that these settlements were designed as garden suburbs, which was a thriving town planning model in the UK during the same period. In contrast to the urban development in previous eras, the urban expansion during the British occupation was not under the public authority’s control. The development of the garden suburbs resulted from the initiatives of land development companies with European or mixed capital. They were mainly planned by European professionals or European-educated locals. The garden suburbs attracted the small British colonial community, foreigners and the elite Egyptians community; thus, they soon became the fashionable residential quarters of Cairo. Later on, they hosted the modern architecture movement as several modern residential buildings started to appear in their skyline.
Several studies have examined the historical development of such areas; however, the process of transfer of this town planning model received little attention from planning historians. This paper focuses on the process of transfer of the garden suburbs questioning: (1) how they were transferred to Cairo; and (2) what was exactly transferred? Thus, a historical analysis is conducted on three gardens suburbs Maadi, Heliopolis and Zamalek. The study focuses on: the developers, architects, the residents’ social target groups and the urban design principles. It analyzes also the work of European-educated local architects Aly Labib Gabr and Charles Aryout, representing the later transferred modern architectural movement.

Mohamed El-Azzazy is a PhD candidate at the Bauhaus Universität Weimar in the European Urban Studies program. His main research interest is the change in historical residential settlements, focusing on the conflict between development and conservation needs. He graduated from the Arab Academy for Science and Technology in Cairo with a Bachelor and Master degree in Architectural Engineering and Environmental Studies in 2007 and 2011 respectively. He has worked as a teaching assistant in the same institution since his graduation. He has also worked in several architectural firms where he worked on several architectural projects and research projects in historic contexts in Cairo. He is a co-editor for the YA-AESOP booklet series, “Conversation in Planning”. He is also a RIBA member as a chartered architect.

Semra Horuz
TU Wien

Basak Özden
Istanbul Technical University

Infrastrastructural Histories: The Haydarpaşa-Pendik Railway Line in Istanbul (1873–2013).

This paper examines the destruction of Haydarpaşa-Pendik railway line in 2013 by examining the role of photography as historical evidence over the course of 140 years of functioning, its sudden destruction and the tension in-between. It attaches particular attention to the researcher as a recorder, curator and storyteller of architectural histories of these processes.
Constructed between 1871 and 1873, the importance of Haydarpaşa-Pendik line is grounded on two reasons: being a catalyst of urbanization in Anatolian Continent of Istanbul, which was formerly a natural and agricultural landscape; and being an outcome of industrialization – particularly of central European efforts headed by Germany for expansion and colonization. Its potential as a network for transaction motivated both countries and became the seed of long-term collaborations.
The railway was the first major Bautätigkeit and transportation axis in Asia. It created new urban centres in the region and prolonged the Orient Express that links Istanbul with Europe. Although it was built in the proliferation of nation-building period and travelling, intended archival practices emerge neither in the hands of the Ottoman officials nor European travellers/photographers. The rare old photographs mainly appear as family memorabilia. Thus, the sudden destruction is dominantly reacted as a threat to the collective memory left with merely the unattended traces of passenger stations and quarters. Within this context, the aim is to look for the unsought relations between photography and demolition. Currently, the sizeable gap on the site and temporary loss of materiality has been attractive for many. This period of new “ways of seeing” creates many private collections that would probably be curated, classified and contextualized in various manners. An alternative paradigm, we believe, emerges that encompasses digital image reservoirs in the internet, personal shootings, mixed media, hybrid and remediated imagery by diverse technologies.

Semra Horuz graduated from Bilkent University, Department of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design. She received her Masters degree from the Graduate Program of Architectural History at METU in 2010. Her thesis at the TU Wien focuses on Peter Greenaway’s cinematography as a tool to capture the two/three-dimensional representations of the books, the bodies and the spaces in a historical frame. She is the co-author and managing editor of the publications entitled THE PAZAR: The Urban and Tectonic Structures of Istanbul’s Open-air Markets and HEYigi (Imaginable Guidelines, Istanbul).

Başak Özden received her Bachelor and Master degrees from Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Architecture. Her thesis, entitled “Transformation of Architectural Space with the aid of Artistic Production”, focused on the reciprocal relation between architectural space and artwork, specifically the site-specific installations of the Austrian artist Esther Stocker. During her Masters, she took part in Exhibition Design Workshop in METU, founded by Prof. Dr. Ayşen Savaş. She is now a PhD candidate at Istanbul Technical University/Architectural Design and a full time lecturer in Maltepe University in Istanbul.

Laura Barlow
Curator and Researcher, Doha, Qatar

The Work of Saloua Raouda Choucair within an International Modernism.

This paper focuses on the artwork of Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair, born in Lebanon in 1916, to look at the active rhythms of progress in her sculpture and writing. Exploring her approach to internal and external systems and structures, and organic and built environments, allows the mapping of the artist’s work within an international modernism accelerated by post-world war II modernization and scientific and technological innovation.
Choucair pursues artistic practice as a civic project. Structures of mathematics, science, Islamic art and architecture, Arabic language and poetry explore repetition and modularity in the construction of abstract form, opening a philosophical inquiry – inspired by Sufic thought – on the potential infiniteness of self and citizenry. While practicing in painting, textiles, furniture, jewelry, architecture and landscape design, her long-term commitment to sculpture produced a generative series of abstract, modernist forms in stone, wood, bronze, aluminum, brass and plexiglas.
Possibilities of multiplicity and infiniteness and intellectual references to movement and progress reappear throughout her work; the line and circle of the Mosque, and the modular, tessellating forms of modernist architecture; the written Arabic language and the structural movement of poetic verse; and quantum physics, cellular construction, and scientific progression towards the understanding of DNA.
The paper draws together known and possible influences on her thinking, including the Bauhaus and associated characters Siegfried Ebeling and Buckminster Fuller, along with Le Corbusier, Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, Iraqi architect Rifat Chadirji, Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, artist Lygia Clark and the Russian constructivists, among others. Staking Choucair in this context as an independent, futurist thinker asks: which lesser known references can be uncovered, and perhaps more importantly, what or who were the missed connections? This approach initiates writing a history of Middle Eastern sculptural practice as one strand of Arab Modernism, that was defined in relation to complex relationships with colonial histories and regional political and religious struggles, while constantly in dialogue with expanded, global, modernist thinking.

Laura Barlow is Curator at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar, where she curates major exhibitions on artists from the collection, experimental Project Space shows, and public talks. Recent exhibitions include “Hassan Sharif: Objects and Files”, 2016; “Saloua Raouda Choucair: The Meaning of One, The Meaning of the Multiple”, 2015; “Wael Shawky: Crusades and Other Stories”, 2015, as assistant curator; and “Manal AlDowayan: Crash”, 2014. Her work is focused on artists’ invention of new forms and visual languages in relation to modern and contemporary life across continents. This looks at the circulation of ideas and forms within art movements and global histories, to pose new associations between art production and socio-political change. At e-flux, New York between 2010 and 2014, she organised exhibitions with Mariana Silva & Pedro Neves Marques, Khalil Rabah, Rossella Biscotti and Hito Steyerl, and was managing editor of Art Agenda reviews from 2010 to 2012. She holds an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from Bard College, NY and a BA in History from University of Wales, Swansea, UK. She writes frequently for international art publications.

Mehran Mojtahedzadeh
Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The Orientalist Depiction of Iran in the Vogue and GQ Magazines in the 1960s/ 70s.

This paper explores the notion of architectural representation during the modernist period of Iran through fashion and photography. Architecture, fashion and photography became increasingly political throughout Iranian history as they often came to be an integral part of the modernism project in Iran. As such, the image conveyed by these disciplines continues to be a sensitive matter that is closely associated with the cultural identity of Iran/Persia.
In 1969, editors of the fashion magazine Vogue traveled to Iran for a photo shoot for their December issue. In this issue we see models posing in front of¬, and at times¬ inside, some of the most famous and precious architectural landmarks of the country. The series features famous historical sites such as Persepolis in Shiraz, the Golestan Palace in Tehran and the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan. The texture and colour of featured dresses relate evidently to their architectural background. In the pictures of Isfahan, for example, we can see a strong colour correlation between the mosaic tiles of the domes, the sky, the colors of the dresses, the colors of the mud bricks and even the skin and hair colors of the posing model. All of these references attempt to juxtapose the subject in the foreground to its environment in the background, yet in reality, they are actually worlds apart. The presence of female bodies in the predominantly masculine and often religious architectural backgrounds of their photo shoot hints at a tension that can be traced back to the architectural history of modernism in Iran which had gained momentum since the early 1930s. This paper will analyse the photographs of Vogue and aim to situate them in the history of modernism in Iran.

Mehran Mojtahedzadeh is a PhD candidate and a guest lecturer at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. His research revolves around architecture and the notion of representation with a focus on Iranian architecture and culture in the modernist period. Mehran holds a Masters degree from the Städelschule Architecture Class in Frankfurt am Main. Since 2009, he has been active as an architect and tutor and has worked on a variety of projects in different contexts, among them with Studio Miessen in Berlin where he was involved in a number of international projects such as the Venice Art Biennale 2013 and the Bergen Assembly in Norway, which focused primarily on exhibition design and art. In 2013, he co-founded the architecture practice HMA based in Frankfurt am Main.


Helene Kazan is a spatial practitioner, writer and current CHASE-funded PhD candidate at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London. Recent work includes: commissioned online project “Engineering Shelter” for Ibraaz, and “The Right to Shelter”, a conversation between Kazan and Amal Khalaf, Commissioning Editor for Ibraaz (2015). Recent publications include “Risk (De)constructed: Through the Future Image of Home” in the 24th Edition of Cambridge University’s Architecture Journal, on the “Future Domestic” (2015). Kazan has given public lectures on “(De)constructing Risk: A Domestic Image of the Future” at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow and for “Urban Encounters: Movements/Mobilities/Migration” at Tate Britain. Her project “A Cartography of Risk” was exhibited as part of “Forensis” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin, and contributed to the book Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth (Sternberg, 2014). Kazan formed part of the research group “Modelling Kivalina”, which was awarded the World Justice Opportunity fund in 2013. Further exhibitions include “Exposure” at the Beirut Art Center (2013), Lebanon and documenta(13), Kassel (2012).

Martin Siegler is a doctoral student at the Center for Media Anthropology (Bauhaus Universität Weimar) and works as a research assistant at the research group “Media and Mimesis” (Weimar, Bochum). He received his MA in Media Studies from Bauhaus-Universität Weimar with a thesis on “Emergency Objects”. Between 2012 and 2015, he worked as a research assistant at the “Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie” (IKKM) and at the Chair for Media History (Bauhaus Universität Weimar). From 2014 to 2015 he was also a research assistant at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin. His research interests include the ontology of technical objects, emergency technologies, assistance systems and the philosophy of existence. His current research focuses on “signs of life”.