Olalekan Jeyifous calls his partly dystopian-looking collages, which deal with urban transformation processes, visual conversations. By exaggerating existing situations, he aims to increase the visibility of those people and settlements who often go unheard in planning and fall victim to urban development. He sheds light on the intertwining of hegemonic structures, shows how architecture perpetuates the power structures of colonialist ideologies and then itself becomes ammunition in the arsenal of colonial power. These different perspectives and narrative strands are also reflected in this collage of the European city. After the systematic exploitation of its colonies, it stands here as a colonized entity itself that not only tells of these systems but also of greener futures and stories.
An Afrofuturist Vision
A City Displaced
The small town of Kiruna in Sweden, with a population of almost 18,000, is to be moved. The reason for this is a magnetite ore mine. The city could collapse if the earth is hollowed out. Plans have been developed to partly demolish and partly rebuild the houses at a location about three kilometers away. This unusual move should be completed by 2033. Many, including the city administration, see a town developed on the drawing board as a potential new beginning. However, not everyone seems happy about the plans, which are closely linked to the company’s economic development. What would happen, for example, if the global market price for magnetite ore fell and the relocation of Kiruna, which has already begun, could not be fully implemented?
From Locomotive Workshop to Library
In 2009, the municipality of Tilburg, together with two large real estate and construction groups, acquired a massive plot directly behind the main railway station. The original plan was to demolish existing buildings, such as the former locomotive hall, or LocHal for short, and to construct huge office and apartment complexes. However, the decision was reversed. Instead of demolition, redevelopment and conversions took root. And so, in 2019, the municipal library—which is much more than just a collection of books—opened here. Its glass hall protects an inner-city square with a café and open staircase. There are also archives, offices, as well as event rooms and, on the perimeters, workshop areas and small meeting rooms. The many people who use the building for a wide range of activities make it clear that public space will continue to play an essential role in the future.
Technical Assistance for an Informal Settlement
South of Lisbon, in the hinterland of hotels and apartment complexes, is the not yet legalized Terras da Costa quarter. In 2012, the idea of setting up a communal kitchen was born in the neighborhood. Their proposal was tied to hopes that authorities would agree to install a water supply and thereby start the legalization process of the settlement. The architectural office ateliermob and many other groups, initiatives, and individuals supported this ambition in various ways. Some contributed their work directly, others positioned themselves in solidarity, and foundations funded the project. After about two years, water finally flowed to Terras da Costa. But many other aspects remained unresolved or have not been decided politically, so that settlements in similar situations have to continue the fight for their rights to the city.
Due to out-migration, the city of Görlitz has shrunk by a quarter of its population since the 1990s. In 2008, a research group of the TU Dresden and the Görlitz city administration dared an experiment to attract new people to the city. Temporary living in Görlitz should reveal the qualities and potential of this place. Probewohnen, Stadt Erleben, and Stadt auf Probe, and now the fourth edition of the project is underway. Those interested can try out living in the city and get to know the networks in the cultural and youth sectors. They can use shared workspaces as well as workshops and thus directly explore new social and professional perspectives.
Transformation Instead of Demolition and Construction
All over the world, large housing estates like Cité du Parc rise upwards out of spacious park landscapes. They are often considered »social hotspots.« As is the case here. In the early 2000s, the French state decided to rethink the future of such housing estates. This is where the architecture firm Lacaton & Vassal with Druot comes in. The team had been working on this question for some time: How can spatial transformations be planned and implemented so that they do not lead to occupant displacement? The office’s work illustrates that alternatives to demolition and new construction do exist. And they define new qualities in buildings, which many believe cannot be improved.