The need to be housed is basic and yet, the forces that produce it in any city of the world are complicated, multiple, contradictory and often conflictive. These forces may be political, military, economic social or technological. Together, they all mean the delivery of housing always takes place against a backdrop of conflicts and conflicting interests that too often means residents are left behind, ignored and, at times, actively targeted as a problem.
Whilst inherently complicated in any context, housing delivery is even more difficult in sites of inherent social, cultural, political and economic sensitivity such as the one that hosts this event, Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. Located in the easternmost part of Europe and the western part of the Middle East, it shares waters with Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Israel. It is the only remaining divided capital in the world, with a Greek majority in the south and a Turkish majority in the north. Its banking and financial systems went into meltdown in 2009 and it still operates with two separate national currencies. It is a country with a turbulent history and a socially and economically complicated present.
In such contexts of conflict, conflicting interests and competing forces, how can choice play a role in housing. What kind of choices are available to residents? Without a choice, can people live happy and healthy lives in the houses they inhabit? How do patterns of everyday occupation emerge out of narratives of choices and accident? Why is a sense of choice so important and how is difference in choice regulated? The people making and offering these choices are various: national governments, local authorities, private residents, council tenants, architects deigning houses, builders constructing them and estate agents selling them. How can these conflicting interests be aligned?
Taking as its starting point the social, political, cultural and economic complexity of its host city, this conference seeks to understand the range of conflicting interests and factors that shape the housing of our towns and cities in both normal and extreme scenarios. It is interested in international cases from politically charged environments of military conflict zones to the socially conflictive contexts of developer led gentrification; from local resident initiatives to globally applicable design ideas. Although hosted in a particular geopolitical setting, the issues dealt with resonate further afield and the conference welcomes presentations from any part of the world.