Mimar Kemalettin Bey (1870-1927)

Yavuz , Yıldırım
The initial phase of nationalism in Turkish architecture is known to have covered those turbulent years between 1909-1930 that saw the fall of the Ottoman Empire as well as the dawn of the Turkish Republic. Locally known as; "The First Period of National Turkish Architecture", these two decades were to witness the fervent struggles of a set of young Turkish architects who opposed the western influences on traditional Ottoman architecture, monopolized by foreign and minority experts for the past hundred years. This article is aimed at- the life history of Prof. A.Kemalettin Bey; one of the most influential architects of the period, whose art and ideas were to guide the whole movement of nationalism in Turkish architecture, and whose disciples were to apply these ideas in their work with meticulous exactitude, creating a highly esteemed Ottoman revialism, dominating the architectural scene during those tempestuous years. Kemalettin Bey; the most prominent architect-theoretician of the period, was born İn Istanbul in 1870, to a family of moderate means. He was basically trained to be a civil engineer, at the recently established Imperial School of Engineering, from where he was graduated in 1891. It is reputed that he was greatly influenced here by the lectures of Prof. Jachmund; a German architect officially sent to Istanbul to study historical Ottoman architecture, but stayed on to teach and also design one of the most influential buildings of the period; The Sirkeci Railrod Station. It was Prof- Jacmund's care and rearing which sent Kemalettin Bey to Berlin in 1895 for post-graduate studies in architecture at the "Charlottenburg Technisches Hochschule"; predecessor of the present Berlin Technical University. After completing his graduate studies in 1897, he stayed on to practice in several prominent offices. During these years, he was commissioned by the Ottoman governement to design a large prison for İstanbul, which was never built. After his return in 1900, he was offered a teaching job at the School of Engineering, as well as, the position of chief designer at the Ministry of War, both of which he conducted simultaneously. His most productive period came after he was assigned to the post of chief architect, at the Ministry of Evkaf (Pious Foundations), where he had the chance and the full power to execute his novel ideas on national architecture. The office he established here, consisting of architects, engineers, and artists, specialised in various subjects, was to prove an examplary organisation of team work, putting forth an incredulous output within the short period of ten years, consisting of numerous mosques, schools, office blocks, and other public buildings, built all over the Empire, thus serving as a center for disseminating. the ideas of the master on the subject of national architecture. The fall of the Empire, and the Turkish War of Independence was to cause a temporary break in Kemalettin Bey's work, during when he was invited to Jerusalem, to restore the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque of Aksa. He was awarded an honorary membership in the British Chamber of Architects, for the successful! restoration of these holy buildings. Unable to resist the incessant invitations from the new Turkish governement, in 1925 he returned to Ankara; the new capital of the Republic, to take part in the ardent building activity going on there. Having found the most convenient ambiance to apply his ideas on national architecture, he fervently began to design some of the most outstanding buildings of the capital, which today stand out as imposing monuments among the drab conglomerate of faceless blocks which make up this city. Due to his sudden and unfortunate death on July 13, 1927, he was unable to see any of his designs executed to completion in Ankara.


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Citation Formats
Y. Yavuz, “Mimar Kemalettin Bey (1870-1927),” ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Dergisi, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 53–76, 1981, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: http://jfa.arch.metu.edu.tr/archive/0258-5316/1981/cilt07/sayi_1/53-76.pdf.