Hollanda Araştırma Enstitüsü  -  Nederlands Instituut in Turkije

Contending Architectures: Practice, Policy, and Discourse in Mimarlık, 1963-1980

Burcu Köken (Technische Universiteit Delft)

"The Chamber of Architects at society's service." One frequently encounters this motto when turning the pages of Mimarlık, the in-house journal of the Chamber of Architects of Turkey. It appeared first in the early years of the Chamber as letterheads of correspondences; then, it showed up in some articles in Mimarlık during the 1960s now and then. But, it became very influential during the 1970s, popping up almost in every issue at least once. The motto delivered a particular democratic message that prioritized society for the profession and expressed the commitment to equal practice for all. Under the circumstances of this evident dedication, three questions arise: first, what "society service" means in an architectural debate, second, what is architects' agency in realizing this service, and lastly, as a greater ambition, can architecture -or an architectural journal- be a tool for democratization?

My doctoral research explores these questions by studying the history of the architectural journal Mimarlık during Turkey's inter-coup period. The journal is a revealing lens through which one can observe the transformations under changing political, societal, and democratic conditions. I focus on the journal's contribution to architectural practice and discourse and its influence on policymaking processes from the first issue in 1963 to the 162nd issue in 1980. A journal such as Mimarlık, which could operate between institutions, individuals, and practices, was a site for constant discursive transformation due to changing editorial boards, national and international architectural practices, and of course, socio-political context. In that sense, I look at roughly two decades of Mimarlık as a period of contention, debating over practices, policies, and discourses to democratize the profession and serve better architecture to society. As a whole, this particular research on Mimarlık aims to offer an alternative narrative to the intertwined relationship between architecture and politics when the expansion in architectural knowledge and spatial practices constitutes a body of work in global architectural history.

My stay at the Netherlands Institute in Turkey helped me to start my archival research phase in İstanbul. With the fellowship, I had the opportunity to gather the architectural evidence that gave insights into the journal's and its actors' histories. The interviews I conducted in İstanbul with the journal's contributors gave me another perspective to understand my research. Thanks to NIT Fellowship, during the month, I had the opportunity to visit the buildings of Sedad Hakkı Eldem, Tekeli-Sisa, Turgut Cansever, and Ertur Yener, which constitute a big part of modern architectural heritage today. As an architect, this was priceless. My unlimited access to the NIT Library was also another great chance. As part of my research tackles the cultural heritage practices in Turkey, the NIT Library provided me with great literature that I would not have access to in the Netherlands. I want to thank NIT, namely Fokke Gerritsen and Aysel Arslan, for their help and this opportunity.