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Social Forum of Architecture 2010 Forum Declaration

Last Update 27.10.2010

Architecture for ALL!!!
Another Architecture is Possible!!!

This declaration was endorsed by the Social Forum of Architecture organized by the Chamber of Architects of Turkey Ankara Branch on October 21-23, 2010, in Ankara.

Neoliberal policies forced on the world after the crisis in 1973 and on Turkey with the military regime following the 1980 coup revealed once again the historical dynamics of capitalist mode of production. Failing to utilize channels to transfer economic surplus into new investments, capital re-discovered space. Urban space, which has been a major instrument for the ruling classes to display power and exert domination, was now at the core of economic activity.

What happened since then? Capital is still reproducing space to the advantage of ruling classes, displacing the poor and gaining profit by regenerating their living environments. We are living in a society that gradually becomes more and more polarized and asymmetrical. While it is claimed that the concept of “class” has become obsolete, we experience class distinctions as reflected in urban space as obvious as never before. The conspiracy pursued by the united forces of political and financial power is leading to the colonization of urban space. Same strategies annihilate countryside and humanity is forced to live in cities. Poverty is being made into something natural for the few to continue profiting. Cities are turning into spaces of exclusion, isolation, segregation, deprivation and the violation of human rights.

We, the professionals working with space (architects, urban planners and alike) are well aware that it is not possible for us to overcome the greed of capital. Yet, we refute the perception of architecture as a luxury of the affluent. Instead, we consider architecture as a public right for all. We know that social architecture is capable of creating inventive spaces with the involvement of the people. The shared experiences of the participants of the Social Forum of Architecture, who devoted their lives to the design and implementation of such projects, confirmed our belief. We believe that the Forum was successful in sharing our idea that our future is in our hands. The initiation of such a process in raising consciousness is the first and foremost achievement of the Forum. It has been a spark exposing the politics of space and displaying our will as well as the importance of organized struggles. The street power of the Forum was and is vital in making a public opinion that is more receptive regarding the topics in question. From this point onwards, it is essential to move beyond sharing experiences and develop a radical and dynamic line of action. It is necessary to demonstrate that the conditions we live in are not unavoidable. We must work for the defense of public spaces and the democratization of common spaces. We should incorporate ourselves into the people’s ongoing struggles and work towards generating alternatives collectively.

It is important to note that the Forum was organized solely by the Chamber of Architects Ankara Branch and organizations sharing similar concerns. The Forum was not sponsored by corporate firms or their foundations exploiting and discharging the political energy and militancy of urban activists. On the contrary, the Forum was made possible through the sources available to these oppositional organizations.

It is also important that the Forum took place in Ankara, a city which is forced to competition with Istanbul. This has become a global pattern legitimizing the domination of big cities. The success of the Forum revealed the artificiality of such competition being forced on cities. It is clear that there is a strong relationship between the allegations that competition is in human nature and in this way to fabricate competition among cities. The unequal development among cities as well as regions results in people being forced to migrate. While people’s right to maintain their living conditions in their homelands should be acknowledged, it is also crucial to recognize the people’s freedom of migration. Everybody has the right to pursue their lives in the place they choose.

We, the participants of the Forum, who are members of professional institutions, grassroots initiatives and activist organizations, declare our intention to demonstrate that another world that stands on humanitarian values and labor in contrast to capital accumulation and profit maximization is possible. We intend to do this via our practices in and on space. The workshops held during the Forum were experiments in this respect. The step ahead requires a joint struggle against the use of urban space as a means of recovery from systemic crises of capitalism. It is necessary to grasp the significance of struggle against spatial domination and it is crucial to intensify this struggle. It is today an inescapable task to stand against this mode of domination individually as well as collectively in every domain of our daily lives.

We, the participants and active constituents of the Social Forum of Architecture will expand the cooperation founded on this shared platform in organized and productive ways. We call for the building of an international solidarity network among organizations with initiatives that share our will to fight against the spatial forms of capitalist oppression.

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