7 December 2021

Prescribed Modernity: “Health, Hygiene and Architecture in Early Republican Turkey (1923-1950)”

Technical University of Munich

Respondent: Lydia Xynogala (ETH Zurich)

During the nation-building years of the Turkish Republic, protecting and improving the health of the citizens became a subject of debate among politicians, public health experts, and the intelligentsia. An inevitable result of decades of devastating wars, epidemics, and poverty, the alarming population decline led to a national battle against diseases and child mortality. The ruling elites associated physical wellbeing and robustness with morality and patriotism, putting a strong emphasis on preventive approaches in public health. Meanwhile, the fear of germs started rationalizing the built environment, attributing new responsibilities to architecture. Sanitary equipment, anti-dust finishes, natural lighting, airy interiors, and proper ventilation gained prominence in the debates on everyday environments. Childcare facilities and medical institutions such as sanatoria and preventoria were established as spatial manifestations of preoccupations with hygiene and disease prevention. Ultimately the state, medical authorities, architects, and women acted as advocates and inspectors of hygiene in the process of building “the new man” and his healthy living environment.

This research explores the collaboration between architecture, medical knowledge, and national ideology in Turkey during the single-party era by bringing together the representations of sterile environments and healthy bodies in medical advice publications and popular press. I suggest that while positivist discourses and public health measures expanded into many aspects of daily life, disease prevention culture was engaged in a constant dialogue with the built environment in early republican Turkey.

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Relic Steel: Distributed Memorialisation, Dispersed Remembrance

University of Melbourne

Respondent: Fabrizio Ballabio
(University of York/Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio)

Steel has become the de facto material for local memorials to 9/11. While the majority of World Trade Center steel—over 200,000 tons—was recycled abroad, remaining pieces were distributed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to nearly 2,000 sites across the U.S. These ‘modern relics’ were installed in small scale memorials, often in interstitial spots in towns and suburbs.

This presentation makes use of newspaper reports and materials obtained from a Freedom of Information request, to analyse how this act of dispersed memorialisation honors first responders across the U.S., enlarging the geography of trauma and responsibility to remember 9/11. It examines how the use of steel has shifted memorialisation to focus on strength, masculinity, and participation in the War on Terror; and how 9/11 memorials—located in roundabouts, shopping plazas, and office parks—might sacralise their everyday surroundings.

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