Mapping Human Networks of Transnational Architectural Projects

President's Global Innovation Fund

This proposal requests support to fund a pilot research project studying the local impact of transnational architectural projects on human networks of labor. This research will be undertaken in collaboration with Studio-X and the Global Center in Istanbul. The project proposes to research, analyze, and represent how the unequal networks of global, construction industry supply chains impact the erection of Istanbul’s large scale, multi-use buildings such as hotels and residential complexes, shopping malls and office buildings; projects which draw together architects, engineers, construction workers, contractors, clients, financing, and materials from around the world.

Principal Investigator

Mabel Wilson
Associate Professor of Architecture

The research group will be comprised of faculty and students from Columbia GSAPP and Barnard College. We will work directly with Studio-X Istanbul’s director Selva Gürdoğan and other local organizations including Bir Umut Derneği, Istanbul Chamber of Architects, and the Assembly for Workers Health and Work Security. As part of our research initiative we propose a series of site visits, working meetings, and research roundtables, including a public forum, to discuss with architects, urbanists, labor organizers and students the impact of these international projects on local construction and labor practices. The case studies materials developed through this initiative will be collected into a document that will be a section of a larger report. With additional funding the report will include documentation collected from similar research initiatives in Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, and Doha (via Amman) within the Global Center/Studio-X network.

This proposal evolves from a three-year ongoing initiative: Who Builds Your Architecture? (WBYA?) whose research educates architects and other allied fields on the impact of globalization has had on architecture labor and construction. Our public forums, workshops, lectures, and exhibitions, which have included events at Studio-X Istanbul in collaboration with the Global Center and at Studio-X New York, promote fair working conditions and sustainable building practices at building sites worldwide.

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