The intersecting areas of anthropology and architecture:
As a transcultural studies student with an architectural background, what I learned from our excursion is the need and profit of thinking about the common interests of anthropological and architectural research on the built environment. Neither can we think of communities apart from their spatiality and the spaces they dwell/produce, nor of buildings and settlements without their inhabitants. In the Heidelberg excursion walks, we dived deep into this relationship from various points, including the past and present layers of the built environment.
During our tours to alternative co-living spaces, which are also traces of the US Army, we had the chance to observe the divergent texture of social groups: one being a student commune (Collegium Academicum), while the other having a common interest in affordability (Hagebutze), another representing the promotional future of a sustainable neighborhood (Bahnstadt region), and the last proposing a complex scenario of co-livings, sustainable solutions, lived spaces, and environmental relationships (Patrick Henry Village).
These projects had different footprints on the landscape and urban planning, both when designed and when inhabited. We saw that the needs of the created (or in the process of creation) community shaped the complexes and added new layers/forms like murals, new construction projects, landscape design proposals, balconies, and so on. This eventually led the architecture of the buildings, which are mainly the abandoned spaces of the US Army and their community, to be a lively environment, inseparable from the users and their rituals.
We analyzed the lands and projects several times with multidisciplinary methods. In the first day’s meeting, human and urban geographer Prof. Ulrike Gerhard showed us charts, graphics, and maps to introduce the city’s planning and zoning and the locals’ profiles for each zone. I remember how the urban development lands were regarded as brown zone after the US army left, a term and method mostly geographers and urban planners use to distinguish usable, empty lands of the city.
Later, when we visited those lands and started to see what was there, we began to differentiate those projects and the traces of the US Army since each project approached the site with different motivations and concepts. The color brown had new shades and signs during our walks. In the third step, when we had conversations with the dwellers in the Bahnstadt region, Collegium Academicum, and Hagebutze, the projects gained another layer, which I would call the human condition. The projects had distinctive social textures and daily rituals compared to each other. The social profile or the dwellers of these three zones attained particular colors to the brown zones, the color of how they live with/in those spaces.
Lastly, I would like to mention our workshops thanks to the crossmopollinate team. During our thinking and wording sessions, we experienced multiple ways of telling the city, creating an interdisciplinary lens for analyzing the urban spaces with its people. We reconsidered the city with terms and the terms with the city. For me, it was a helpful method of interpreting an urban analysis from interdisciplinary perspectives, especially for the intersection of anthropological and architectural research.
Collegium Academicum, new construction for the student housing on the “brown zone,” photo taken by me.
Participating in the CA – group photo.
The Courtyard of the Hagebutze, reusing the “brown zone.”
Co-housing in Hagebutze, sharing space, photo taken by me.
Wording Sessions, photo taken by Diego.
Ilknur Erdogan continues her higher education in M.A. Transcultural Studies at Ruprecht Karls University Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. She obtained her B.Arch and M.Sc. in Architecture at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. Her research involves gender, literature and space, architectural memory, and heritage studies.