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Experiences Limited – All Spoilers, No Criticism

Nóra Bükki Gálla

We met in a 5 star hotel’s bar overlooking the city and were told that shortly we will be taken to a high class residential project to be presented as a group of European investors. We didn’t have much time to invent a story of rich aunts and inherited fortunes. As it turned out, we didn’t need one. But just in case.

Gated communities, we were told, are a big issue in Istanbul because they are in the middle of the city, rich folks throwing their richness into poor people’s faces. Barbed wire fences, bulky security guards, cameras everywhere – such places are possible to access. Unless you want to join the club, of course. Our two facilitators, Anat Eisenberg and Mirko Winkel got an appointment for us for two such projects, dividing the group between two high rise buildings both nearly finished.

We spent the next hour listening to marketing slogans, looking at 3D models and trotting in plastic wrapped shoes upon marble floors of apartments with the price tag of several million dollars, gaped at the Bosporus view from the 66th floor. Having asked all the questions we could come up with, we thanked the salesman, took our minibus and off we went.

So. Was this a performance? Did it have anything to do with dance and choreography? Can such things be called art at all? Whatever the answer, for me personally this was something to take home to remember. Unsettling, liberating, scary, provocative. I keep thinking about the connection of architecture and prestige and wonder whether we all live such gated lives, limited by our own circumstances, preferences and social status. Or is it preconceptions and sheer snobbishness? Mmm. I mean, the gates should be open, shouldn’t they? Or if not, we should at least know that they exist.

But anyway.

Note to the architect: Beware. People want the price tag, not well designed spaces to live in. Now that is something to elaborate on…

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