Architecture. – Thanks to the civil acceleration impressed, starting from the Thirties, by Kemal Atatürk, Turkey is perfectly aligned with the contemporary architectural excursus of the West, without however forgetting in any case its own historical and social peculiarities. The invitation addressed by President Atatürk to several exponents of the modern movement to collaborate in the construction of the young republic and the new capital, Ankara, inaugurated a fruitful practice for the plurality of international contributions implemented.
According to itypeusa, this custom had, however, at least one illustrious precedent: that of R. D’Aronco called in 1892 by the then sultan Abdu’l-hamid to design the Ottoman Exposition. D’Aronco stopped for a long time in Turkey assuming, after the Istanbul earthquake (1894), the position of state architect responsible for the reconstruction, creating some buildings in which reflections of the East and persuasive floral linearities coexist happily, such as the small Mosque in Istanbul in 1903 and the Santoro house in 1907. Following the stay of the master of liberty, contacts with Western culture multiplied, so that, again in 1916, the competition for the Turkish-Germanic Friendship House in Istanbul, won by G. Bestelmeyer, in which people such as H. Poelzig, B. Taut, P. Bonatz, who would have had such a part in the subsequent events of Turkish architecture. The work presented by Poelzig is considered a milestone of expressionism: a stepped organism, overlooking the city, the result of a sophisticatedly opulent fantasy, where everything is artificial: “hanging gardens and ziggurats merged in a Babylonian rhapsody” (Biraghi 1992) and splendid prototype of the subsequent Berlin Grosses Schauspielhaus. Twenty years later, after having conceived a theater and a conservatory for Istanbul and designed a house for diplomats in Ankara, he was offered the chair at the Academy of Arts in Istanbul: the elderly architect (who would soon die) refused because he loved “the cold skies and dull colors” of his homeland. The appointment then passed to lifelong friend, Taut, fleeing Nazi Germany. Taut can be said to be the key figure in the constructive renewal of the Turkey: hired by the technical-building office of the Ministry of Education, he created the Faculty of Languages and History at the University of Ankara (1937), designed, among other things, a daring residence for himself in Ortakog, and looked after Atatürk’s funeral bier in Ankara in 1938, before dying in exile in Istanbul on December 24 of the same year.
The Tautian influence continued after World War II, forming a solid modern substrate, which is still vital today. The arrival of P. Bonatz, consultant in Ankara from 1943 to 1946 and professor at the University of Istanbul from 1949 to 1953, instead introduced a cautious modernism with monumental components. Author of the Ankara Opera (1948) and several houses, he opposed the American internationalism advocated by the SOM (Skidmore, Owen & Merrill) in the Hilton hotel in Istanbul (1954) and by R. Neutra’s lectures. L. Piccinato also provided a valid contribution to the formulation of an urban planning methodology, including both the protection of ancient nuclei and the definition of polycentric models;
Following his teaching, some Turkish architects recently teamed up to rehabilitate the area around Ankara and give home to the new residents, organizing, 11 km from the capital, the satellite city of Bati-Kent (1978-88 and following). Indeed, it is up to national personalities, sensitive to the values of places but equipped with up-to-date professionalism, to try to untie the basic knot, the fascinating dualism of a land-bridge between Asia and Europe, always oscillating between these two worlds: how to reconcile, that is, the affluent modernization in a Europeanist key, favored mostly by the ruling class, and the persistent vivacity of a composite past with nomadic origins, naturally present in the construction techniques of non-urbanized areas (Byzantine, Islamic, Ottoman and late Ottoman). The slow passing of one style into another, with a rhythm marked only by regional diversities, had given rise to the ” First Architectural Nationalism ”, characterized by a rigidly monumentalist Ottoman style, which was followed by expressive functionalism imported from Germany. Only from the second half of the 1940s did a more moderate indigenous trend emerge, called ” According to Architectural Nationalism ”, thanks to Sedad Hakki Eldem, the main representative of the first generation of modern Turkish architects, joined by Zeki Sayar, Turgut Cansever and the younger Behruz Cinici and Ersen Gürsel. First Architectural Nationalism ”, characterized by a rigidly monumentalist Ottoman style, which was followed by expressive functionalism imported from Germany. Only from the second half of the 1940s did a more moderate indigenous trend emerge, called ” According to Architectural Nationalism ”, thanks to Sedad Hakki Eldem, the main representative of the first generation of modern Turkish architects, joined by Zeki Sayar, Turgut Cansever and the younger Behruz Cinici and Ersen Gürsel. First Architectural Nationalism ”, characterized by a rigidly monumentalist Ottoman style, which was followed by expressive functionalism imported from Germany. Only from the second half of the 1940s did a more moderate indigenous trend emerge, called ” According to Architectural Nationalism ”, thanks to Sedad Hakki Eldem, the main representative of the first generation of modern Turkish architects, joined by Zeki Sayar, Turgut Cansever and the younger Behruz Cinici and Ersen Gürsel.
Eldem and Cansever temper the eclectic syntax of nationalism with a calculated and persuasive attention to the reasons of the context: current technologies and materials are then combined with the forms of tradition, simplified and rationalized according to a shrewd neo-historicism which, in some ways, it is similar to that of the Italians S. Muratori and G. Caniggia (see in this Appendix). In the Social Security Agency Complex in Zeyrek (Istanbul, 1962-64) Eldem highlights the particular ” critical ” regionalism, or neoregionalism, a trend that in younger personalities like Gürsel and Cinici turns into adherence to a postmodern poised between L Kahn and R. Venturi, although more joyful and not immune to brutalist influences derived from P. Rudolph.
We owe to Cansever the elaboration of a more sophisticated language: his architectures, in fact, with a clear and clean sign, draw nourishment from past civilizations (especially Anatolian and Ottoman) but to reinterpret them in current ways. Thus in the building of the Turkish Historical Society and in the project for the cultural center dedicated to Atatürk in Ankara, the traditional motifs are coordinated with Tautian memories, establishing semantic relationships in which the ornament (the “ East ”) is configured as connotative reference of the place. Nonetheless, the transition from a stylistic nationalism to a panorama of complex research, including high tech as well as free style postmodern, it was not entirely painless, resulting in a kind of architectural syncretism.
The most recent trends have therefore affected vast, even if in fact elitist, areas, and the only common foundation seems, indeed, to be the recognition of multiple cultural identities, albeit heterogeneously implemented. From this perspective, the legacy of the modern takes on both the face of new brutalism with Günay Cilingiroglu and Muhlis Tunca – who add audacious deconstruction to archetypal schemes – and the spurious high tech of the Taskim Trade and Business tower, designed by Doruk Pamir. On the other hand, the extreme neo-government of the EPA group is echoed by the moderate postmodern of the Arolat Group and Turkey ÇCavdar, softly adapted to rational systems. Finally, alongside the plastic expressionism of recent years, an experimentalism has been formed that is attentive to preserving the demands of the modern international. An example of this current is the villa in the suburbs of Istanbul by Has Architects (A. Hayzuran Hasol and Dogan Hasol, 1992): well-kept, even Scarpa in some details, it nevertheless risks the hibernation of forms.
Cinema. – In Turkey the first, sporadic cinematographic activities date back to the 1910s: Fuat Uzkinay directed the first Turkish documentary in 1914, Ayastefanos Taki Rus Abidesinin Yikilisi (“The destruction of the Russian monument in Ayastefanos”), while Sedat Simavi made two films in 1917 subject, Pence (“The claw”) and Casus (“The spy”). Only in the 1920s did production start on an industrial basis, thanks to the initiative of the Seden brothers (Kemal Film) and the Ipekci brothers (Ipek Film).
From the silent era until the 1940s, the figure of Muhsin Ertu dominated unchallenged.