Digital Humanities Research Unit is a newly launched research group at Yasar University (YU). Its first research project (2015-2016) has focused on two public housing projects in İzmir that were built in the context of urban renewal: Uzundere and Örnekköy. Here, space has been analyzed as a complex entity, incorporating both material and socio-cultural components, such as the study of design decisions; the representations of the projects in the media during the design and settlement processes; and the transformation of the spaces by their users due to their spatial practices. Finally, a website has been developed to enable the findings of the project to reach a broad audience who will be able to draw their own conclusions on specific themes: http://yeniyer.yasar.edu.tr/
The first major research project undertaken by the DH Unit, on the relationship between space, design and everyday life in public housing settlements in İzmir, received financial support from The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) as part of its Short-Term R&D Funding Program (2015-2016). The research group approaches space as a complex entity, incorporating both material and socio-cultural components, and includes the study of design decisions, conceptions and discourses of planners; the representations of the projects in the media; and the transformation of the spaces by their users. In order to reach a broader audience and open the project up to multiple interpretations, we further developed an internet site to display our findings and highlight multiple aspects of urban renewal. One of the major outcomes of this project, “Digitizing Lefebvre’s Spatial Triad,” has appeared in Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (Oxford University Press: http://dsh.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/12/13/llc.fqw061
The second research project concerns the architectural dimensions of hidden homelessness in Izmir, and is in the process of proposal development.
DH (Digital Humanities Research Unit) meetings convene on most Fridays at Yaşar University, Architecture Department. These events are hosted by SPACE & [DIGITAL] CULTURE, an international, interdisciplinary and intercultural graduate program at Yaşar University’s Faculty of Architecture. The scope of the program is situated at the cross section of more conventional historical and theoretical research and cutting-edge digital research tools and methods employed in architectural studies: http://fbe.yasar.edu.tr/en/programs/graduate-programme/architecture-graduate-programme/
The focus of SPACE & [DIGITAL] CULTURE is on hitherto neglected urban spaces and spatial practices in disciplinary discourses and practices. These highly visible spaces are rendered invisible as they fall outside the boundaries of normal(ized) and hence normative practices. At their best, such spaces are integrated into the given vocabularies of dominant disciplinary discourses with buzzwords like urban renewal, sustainability and improvement of living standards. Focusing on the limitations of such discourses and their emerging practices, the program seeks to generate alternative approaches to marginalized urban spaces, which recognizes their alterity. This quest pervades teaching, learning and research activities within the program which are tightly integrated.
Research: Research activities within the program are integrated with those of the Digital Humanities Research Unit and aim at collective and interdisciplinary projects. The research agenda involves analyses of various layers of urban space via conventional and digital means that provide interactive and open-access environments that are not limited to the boundaries of the academia. The ultimate aim is the revelation and/or realization of alternative spaces that attend to the hitherto unacknowledged needs of urban dwellers who have limited agency in the existing socio-economic system.
Teaching/Learning: The program is centered around the studio, where the projects are integrated with theoretical courses. All faculty are actively involved in the studio environment to ensure the quality of such integration. The studio functions like a laboratory where theoretical approaches, participatory and interdisciplinary design solutions and their modes of representation are tested. The aim of the studio projects is to generate transformative design practices, whereby the students are encouraged to unlearn their knowledge of standardized spatial practices.
Collaboration: Besides the Digital Humanities Research Unit, the program aims to collaborate with local authorities like the municipality and informal organizations like Urban Tank, in identifying urban issues and in arranging solution-oriented activities such as workshops that involve the agency of not only the students but also urban communities as users. Ongoing projects with the Bornova municipality include a studio project in the Kızılay district and a community based project in Küçük Park, Bornova which also includes the participation of Urban Tank. Long term collaboration plans involve international agencies such as universities and digital humanities research centers which work on similar themes in different geographies.
Join SPACE & [DIGITAL] CULTURE on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/585521101568738/