Urbane Ethiken

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A Disputable History of the Moralists (1900-2015): Architects in Istanbul as Conquistadors, Anticapitalists and Democracy Fighters

Uğur Tanyeli, Bilgi University Istanbul

Beginning with the 20th century architects in Istanbul, at least a tiny group who called themselves Turks, became rather “talkative”. The first professionals, who began to talk, were the Muslim/Turkish graduates of the new schools of engineering and architecture founded in the late 19th century. The discourses they construed were to be declarations of war against the non-Muslim architects they imagined as the ones responsible for the aesthetical decadence of “Turkish Architecture”. The newly evolving war cry of the period between 1900- 1940 was to propagate a reconquista of the architectural scene that they believed to have been unlawfully taken over in the recent past by these “alien” groups.
Doubtless, there is a long way from the disputable morals of the “talkative” architects of 1900s to the attitudes of the new ones who seek a new ethical position on the winding road towards democracy. The shadows of the past, however, are not eliminated. What I want to discuss in my paper is a search for the clues of the latent moralistic attitudes that still prevail amongst the architects’ déformations professionnelles in Istanbul -at least amongst an important group of them. Because even in this present case the road to hell seems to have been paved with good intentions.

Uğur Tanyeli is an architect and architectural historian, who has worked at several departments of architecture in around Turkey. After his most recent stay at Artuklu University in Mardin, he now returned to Istanbul and the faculty for architecture at Bilgi University Istanbul. He is the author of a number of important monographs on Turkish architects and publications in different languages on architectural history.