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Ideas of living

This is an issue about how domestic space organizes our surroundings and habits and values and bodies. It is also about convention: how norms became norms, and how design might gently or violently pull them apart to propose new ways of relating to ourselves and each other in our most intimate settings. It offers a few terms for discussing what can happen when architectural ideas come home.

Article 4 of 16

Bonjour Tristesse

Photographs by Esra Akcan

In 2009 and 2012, Esra Akcan visited Wohnhaus Schlesisches Tor in Berlin, a project by Álvaro Siza also known as Bonjour Tristesse (after graffiti that appeared on the building’s facade immediately before it opened). The photographs that appear below, of a second-floor corner apartment, interstitial spaces, and the building in context, were taken as part of her ongoing research into urban renewal and architecture at the intersection of global politics.1


  1. See, for example, “A Building with Many Speakers: Turkish ‘Guest Workers’ and Álvaro Siza’s Bonjour Tristesse Housing for IBA-Berlin,” in The Migrant’s Time, ed. Saloni Mathur (New Haven: Clark Institute and Yale University Press, 2011), 91–114. Akcan is currently working on a book titled Open Architecture that also addresses the project. 

Álvaro Siza. Standard floor plan and elevations, Bonjour Tristesse, c. 1980. ARCH274283

Several of Akcan’s photographs, as well as the drawing by Siza above, were included in our exhibition Corner, Block, Neighbourhood, Cities. Álvaro Siza in Berlin and The Hague. Akcan was also a 2008–2009 Visiting Scholar here.

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