Ulusal Kimlik Sorusu Üzerine Karşıt Düşünceler Ve Konut Mimarisi

Balamir, Aydan
Asatekin, Gül
Discussions of identity in Turkish architecture have customarily addressed the choice of style as an expression of a cultural commitment to modernity or of a resistance to it. It is especially the old rhetorical opposition between 'universal civilization' and 'national cultures' that marks the core of the debates, the roots of which go back to the Culture of Enlightment and the Romantic Movement. Trapped within the political context of rivalry between 'progressive' and 'conservative' camps, preoccupation with the ideological connotations of architectural styles have at times superceded concerns for refinement in design and production. Despite common discontent with the existing built environment, arguments along modernist and traditionalist lines are often misplaced or positioned at each other's stand. While preservation of the cultural heritage for instance, is central to the struggles of progressive circles, preservation is less of a concern for the conservative circles even though their aspirations point towards the resurrection of past traditions. The attempts to base contemporary design on traditional models receive the reaction of progressive circles, essentially because the religious or nationalist arguments that are implicit to revivalist programs are in conflict with the universalist ideals of modernism. The conservative critique, in turn, claims the fallacy of the orthodox modernist in confusing 'universal' with 'international'. Hence the arguments for a 'national style' in architecture follow the emphasis of the timeless qualities of the Turkish house, in contrast to the temporary images of international styles. The pro-modernists however, regard the national legitimation of a traditional house type equally confusing, given the difficulty of identifying a typical 'Turkish house' to represent the entire society in its heteregenous condition, past and present. Although there is a tendency to distinguish at least two families of house types that belong to Anatolian Turks and Greeks, the Anatolian house provides a remarkable example of cultural diffusion. During the Ottoman era, a variety of cultures impinged on one another, giving rise to house types shared by different ethnic and religious groups. The lesson to learn from the Anatolian experience is that, identity arises from physical and cultural circumstance. Current search for identity however, focuses elsewhere. While the 'conservative' locates cultural identity in an idealized past (ie. an architecture that descends from an alleged origin), the 'progressive' addresses an emancipatory future (ie. an architecture that reflects progress and instrumental rationality). Unable to cope with the present situation, both camps share a common historicist vision concerning the pattern of historical change. Whereas at the core of the current predicament in Turkish urban environment rests an irretrievable disruption of cultural continuity. With the process of modernization along Western models, the urban realm has undergone a radical transformation, whereby the rooted house traditions have been replaced by a deplorable modern vernacular of apartment housing. Parallel to the recent postmodern critique of architectural modernism, an uncritical eclecticism has emerged (in mainstream house production), whose practice is largely confined to the facade treatments of what is essentially the same apartment typology. Being variations of a few cliche" plan types, in all mediocrity of design and production, the majority of urban housing today conforms with the pragmatic interests of the speculative property markets. Whether these apartment buildings are dressed up in modern or traditional idiom, ultimately does not account for any recovery of an identifiable urban morphology. In this regard, a comparison of historical and contemporary townscapes is helpful. The Anatolian settlements owe their admirable place quality to contained outdoor spaces that are defined, ordered and scaled by an array of houses serving as a 'perimeter wall' to the street on one side, and the gardens and courtyards on the other. The tectonic features and the resulting physiognomy of houses vary with regional conditions, but the role they play as an interface between public and private domains remains fairly constant. This urban fabric compares to some extent to row or terrace houses, as well as to perimeter block arrangement of apartments in many European towns. Unlike such historic examples from different cultures, the modern apartment blocks in our cities are isolated objects in their individual plots. Under the prevailing property relations and building codes, attempts to revive the ambiance of traditional settlements are to remain a distant vision, except at a level of scenography. The radical role of architects and city planners in this respect, seems to dissolve the boundaries between their professional domains, with an intention towards restructuring the urban form, as well as the concomitant house forms. As for the question of identity, the content of discussions need to dispense with worn-out cultural dichotomies, concentrating instead, on the improvement of professional competence as the most pertinent means to achieve any betterment in architectural production. Such an intention echoes Bruno Taut's emphasis that: All national architecture is not good, but all good architecture is national.


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Citation Formats
A. Balamir and G. Asatekin, “Ulusal Kimlik Sorusu Üzerine Karşıt Düşünceler Ve Konut Mimarisi,” ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Dergisi, vol. 11, no. 1-2, pp. 73–88, 1991, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: http://jfa.arch.metu.edu.tr/archive/0258-5316/1991/cilt11/sayi_1_2/73-88.pdf.