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Editorial Vol 42 no 4 2017

By : Yonca Hurol

The editor of Open House International, Nicholas Wilkinson died on Thursday the 28th of September, at 6.15 am in Famagusta, Cyprus. He was 75 years old and owned and edited Open House International for 42 years, since 1975.

Open House International very important to Nicholas Wilkinson. He felt anxious when there were any problems around the journal’s publication. Writing the editorials was another major concern for Nicholas Wilkinson. He thought deeply about each editorial and wrote them with great care. He only experienced some difficulties in doing this during his last month. With the exception of the September 2017 issue, he was the author of every editorial since the journal’s start, if no guest editor was involved. I had to write the editorial for the September issue to support Nicholas Wilkinson because of his health problems. It was difficult for him to write. When I completed writing the editorial he read it and told me that it was not good. I asked him why and he said that he found it too conventional. Since there was no time to alter it, we had to publish it as it stood. He also explained that an unconventional editorial can have any content at all and still provide information about the issue.

Since that day I have been thinking about the meaning of unconventional. It is easy for me to imagine myself as an unconventional person. However, it is not that easy to produce something which is unconventional. This situation can easily be seen as ideological. Thinking about the unconventional character of Nicholas Wilkinson, I started to understand that unconventional works appear spontaneously and without following any rigid prescription; they are simple but they deal with the important issues of life; they need a high level of confidence; they are not only the products of mind and they are also not controlled by feelings; they need ethos to relate the mind and emotions naturally.

Thinking about Nicholas` criticism of my last editorial has made it very difficult for me to write this editorial. At the beginning I really wanted to write an unconventional editorial as Nicholas wanted. However I could not do it. When Emmanuel Chenyi, who also works for the Open House International, called me to ask about this editorial, I could not delay writing it any longer and decided to write about the current situation of the journal in general and this issue in particular..

The articles in this issue were selected by Nicholas Wilkinson, sent to the referees of the journal and accepted by them for publication. Nicholas said that 20% of the articles which were submitted to Open House were accepted.

Since Nicholas Wilkinson was very interested in the particularities of different geographies and different cultures, it was not a surprise for me to see that the articles in this issue bring the unique architectural or urban characteristics of many different countries and cultures. There are articles about Korea, Egypt, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Iran and Algeria in this issue. It is a rich combination of articles which makes us feel as if we are in these countries ourselves. Missionary architecture in some parts of Korea, sustainable urban mobility in a district of Cairo Egypt, affordable housing in Malaysia, industrial parks and vocational education parks in a city in China, rural housing in northeast China, accessibility of open spaces in a district of Hong Kong, pathways in the cultural landscape of Iran, pro-poor housing in some part of Ghana and retrofitting Berber dwellings in some part of Algeria. These articles form nine of the thirteen articles in this issue.

Two of the other four articles concern the design process of double-skin facades and smart skin buildings. Nicholas Wilkinson was also interested in new technologies, such as double-skin facades and smart architecture. He once published a book about smart architecture in his publishing company called the Urban International Press. The remaining two articles are about the identity of traditional industrial houses and maintaining urban character through morphology analysis.

Perusing this issue was a real pleasure for me because it was like meeting with Nicholas Wilkinson again. Reading about the subjects he was interested in, reminded me of his friendly and cheerful presence once more.

Rest in peace Nicholas.

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