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The Arrival

Copenhagen Architecture Festival (CAFx), Cemre Onerturk

How would it feel to arrive without anyone to welcome you?

This video is part of a series produced during the 2018 CAFx Summer School. The theme was "Architecture as Social Integration".

The CAFx Summer School, part of the Copenhagen Architecture Festival, brings together students from various countries in the pursuit of architectural exploration through film. The 2018 program was hosted in the small port town of Skagen, Denmark. This location may be viewed as a case study for the effects of renewed migration to a place with a steadily declining population. This provided students with an opportunity to speak with residents and select locations characterized by evidence of social integration, defined by Program Director Susanne Eeg as "facilitating connections between people, making the building (and not the people) talk on camera".

One of small town's notable landmarks includes the Skagen train station, the last stop on the line. This stark, bright yellow station, designed by Ulrik Plesner in 1919, facilitates transportation to nearby towns and the rest of Denmark. However, it currently stands empty, lacking visitors at the time of filming.

This is the focus of "The Arrival", written by Cemre Onerturk, as she explores the permeability of the station through several creative approaches in the course of one day. Arriving at the station, she would expect to be "welcomed" although her film proves otherwise. An initial reaction to an empty building would be to reach for the door handle, hoping it will open. Onerturk follows this same course, but upon finding it locked, leaves behind a few of her rings on the door handle. A second attempt to understand the building is framed by tossing her coat over the wall, followed by inserting her shoes into the wall crevices. After being rebuffed by the door, she returns again to try and pick the lock but her attempt is unsuccessful, surrendering the earring she uses to pick it. The final attempt to make sense of this space involves scaling one of the walls, but unable to cross further, she leaves behind her coat propped on a stick, resembling a ghost of her presence there.

The strength of Oneturk's video shines through her innocent expectation of the station- a hope for a space of social activity. However, upon finding it locked, she uses her body to determine whether the structure can support various forms of activity. The attempts, contrasted by a time-lapse view of the front of the station, reinforce her determination and efforts to see whether the building will budge. She pairs the frames with audio of footsteps and background activities, such cars driving by, in contrast to the silent building. Her actions, although intuitive at first, increasingly become bolder as she struggles to intercept the façade. Her final act of leaving a representation of herself marks these attempts to access the impermeable station. Perhaps she yearns to experience the interior as it once was - bustling with residents and travelers reaching the small town.

(Story by Pilar Pereyra, The Architecture Player)


Architect: Ulrik Plesner
Mentioned project: Skagen Station (rebuilt in 1919)
Project location: Skagen, Denmark
CAFx Architect (Tutor for the project): Susan Eeg
CAFx Director: Lea Glob Sørensen
CAFx Anthropologist: Tine Sønderby
CAFx Photographer: Sidsel Becker
CAFx Scenographer: Maja Ziska

Denmark 2018
Duration: 6'34"