_LICE TOWN________________
_Pelin Tan___–––––________
On September 6, 1975, a 6.9-magnitude earthquake shook Lice – a district in southeastern Turkey – which resulted in 2,385 deaths and the destruction of 8,149 buildings. [1] To accommodate those who were displaced, new prefabricated houses were built 2 kilometers below the destroyed area (in the northern part of Lice). More than 40 years later, the displaced are still living in these shelters, although they have since adapted the floor plans to suit their own needs. Ownership of the shelters is a complex legal question, since they were built for temporary purposes, not to be inhabited permanently. According to state building policy, the land register can be altered to redistribute ownership only after two earthquakes. This forced dispossession via natural disaster thus becomes an ecological infrastructure for justifying colonial violence. [2]
In addition to the prefabricated shelters, 453 polyurethane hexagonal igloos were built in the aftermath of the 1975 earthquake. [3] “The shelter is a dome-shaped Styrofoam shell about four and a half inches thick, with a 16-foot diameter on the ground. It is cast at the site by spraying Styrofoam substance on an inflated balloon. The shell is then treated with a waterproofing compound and can be set into place by two men. After the shelter is cast, a doorway and circular ports for windows are cut out for plastic covers.” [4] Does a construction material hold a spatial memory of destruction and violence? As the igloos decayed, they left behind “stones” of Styrofoam.
A Kurdish town, Lice suffered violent conflict through the 1990s. With walls only 5 centimeters thick, the inhabitants of many of the prefabricated shelters built a second wall outside the first one to protect themselves from incoming bullets. During the Lice Massacre, from October 20-23, 1993, the town was burned down, and many of the shelters were destroyed. As Jalal Toufic explains: 
...surpassing disaster leads to the withdrawal not of everything, but of tradition, and touches not everyone, but a community, with the caveat that this community is reciprocally defined by it as the community of those affected by it, and this tradition is defined by it as that which withdraws as a result of the surpassing disaster. [5]
But at what moment does the infrastructure of disaster become the tradition?

NOTES ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓ ▓

Interviews with inhabitants of the prefabricated houses can be found in the open-source activist video archive See:

[1] William A. Mitchell “The Lice Earthquake in Southeastern Turkey: A Geography of the Disaster” (Colorado: United States Air Force Academy, December 1976), USAFA-TR-76-24; AD 035628.

[2] Zeynep S. Akinci and Pelin Tan, “Waterdams as Dispossession: Ecology, Security, Colonization” in Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary, ed. James Graham et al. (Zurich: Lars Müller Publishers, 2016).  

[3] Ian Davis, “Emergency Shelter,” Disasters 1, no.1 (March 1977): 23–40.

[4] William A. Mitchell, “Reconstruction After Disaster: The Gediz Earthquake of 1970,” Geographical Review 66, no. 3 (July 1976): 304.

[5] Jalal Toufic, The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster (Beirut: Forthcoming Books, 2009), 81. 

Want Avery Shorts in your
inbox? Subscribe!

Want Avery Shorts in your
inbox? Forward!

Too much thoughtful discourse
clogging your inbox?

Want this email in your
browser? View in browser!

░░▒▒▓░░░░ Avery Shorts
▒▓░░░░░▒▓ is a project of
▒▓▒▓▒▓▒▓░ Columbia Books on
▒▓▒▓░▓▒▓░ Architecture and the City

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Avery Shorts · 407 Avery Hall · 1172 Amsterdam Avenue · New York, NY 10027 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp