A Philosophy of void : Ankara Hippodrome and after

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2014
Saner, Mehmet
Void is a concept introduced by Greek philosophers to define utterly empty spaces. It has been subject to a number of texts in philosophy, assumptions and studies in sciences, particularly in physics, and exercises in spatial design education. However, once its use in architecture and urban design is replaced with that of space, it is hardly referred to define spaces of any quality. This study aims at exploring the use of void in various realms, and then at reintroducing the term to understand and treat unintentional voids emerging in urban patterns, where spatial terminology and the tools and methods of design fail to develop satisfactory explanations and appropriate approaches. The case to be studied here is Ankara Hippodrome, which is recorded as the First Division of Atatürk Cultural Center Areas today. It is proposed analyzing the area in three consecutive phases: first as a void, which may as well be described as a proto-space with some potential in Ankara in the early 20th century, second as void becoming space, which was used as the hippodrome of the capital city with all spatial qualities as integrated into daily life, and finally as an unintentional void lacking spatial qualities despite the planning decisions and architectural projects to retain its spatiality. Ankara Hippodrome is an unintentional void today. Lacking established spatial relationships, and being detached from the everyday urban experiences, it is no longer a space, but a void that is constantly desired to fill. Yet, neither trying to fill the void is the appropriate method, nor just establishing spatial relationships is enough to turn the void into space. Therefore, before utilizing the tools and methods of spatial design, the ways to make it engage with everyday urban experiences must be sought after so to make the void social as space again.