Esra Akcan, Open Architecture: Migration, Citizenship and the Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg by IBA 1984/87

The Power of Gentleness

Roemer van Toorn

The Power of Gentleness is a discursive research project on how architecture can examine how micro-experiences of power and strength in our everyday lives can contribute to an idea of potential change; a possible emancipatory future. This series of online conversations and journal article will propose a new ethics of hospitality – an open architecture – by incorporating multiple voices, backgrounds and ethnicities through its aesthetic regime. It makes a case for cities that accommodate and foster diversity, liveliness and unpredictability, in stark opposition to over-determination and exclusion. Gentleness is about a power that is also soft, a nobility that is also humble, a sweetness that is also intelligent, a subtlety that is nevertheless striking. Gentleness is about a fragility that has the potential to subvert and change the status quo, a micro-politics of speculative construction towards an open, ecological and socially just future.

Seminar Series

Professor Roemer van Toorn is hosting a series of discussions about the Power of Gentleness in November 2022. Starting with two research seminars at Umeå School of Architecture, and concluding with a workshop at the Vetenskapsrådet Swedish artistic research conference in Luleå on 17 November.

10 November 10.00 – 12.30: Esra Ackan, Professor in Architecture Theory at Cornell University, will give a lecture on ‘The Idea of Welcoming: Studies from Architecture in Translation and Open Architecture’, followed by a roundtable conversation hosted by Roemer van Toorn on gentleness, migration, and open architecture.

15 November 14.30 – 17.00: Lars Lerup, Professor, and former Dean of Rice University Houston, will give a lecture entitled ‘There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in’Followed by a roundtable conversation on gentleness and the role of architecture in breaking stereotypes and creating new assemblages of possibility.

17 November 15.00-16.30: The Power of Gentleness in Architecture: Towards an Aesthetics of Hospitality workshop led by Roemer van Toorn, as part of the Vetenskapsrådet conference Transformations ‘22: artistic research in times of change, Luleå, Sweden.

These seminars are hosted as part of Roemer van Toorn’s Small Visionary Project supported by UmArts.