In Architecture in Translation, Esra Akcan offers a way to understand the global circulation of culture that extends the notion of translation beyond language to visual fields. She shows how members of the ruling Kemalist elite in Turkey further aligned themselves with Europe by choosing German-speaking architects to oversee much of the design of modern cities. Focusing on the period from the 1920s through the 1950s, Akcan traces the geographical circulation of modern residential models, including the garden city—which emphasized green spaces separating low-density neighborhoods of houses surrounded by gardens—and mass housing built first for the working-class residents in industrial cities and, later, more broadly for mixed-income residents. She shows how the concept of translation—the process of change that occurs with transportation of people, ideas, technology, information, and images from one or more countries to another—allows for consideration of the sociopolitical context and agency of all parties in cultural exchanges. Moving beyond the indistinct concepts of hybrid and transculturation and avoiding passive metaphors such as import, influence, or transfer, translation offers a new approach relevant to many disciplines. Akcan advocates a commitment to a new culture of translatability from below for a truly cosmopolitan ethics in a globalizing world.
Turkey: Modern Architectures in History offers a journey through the iconic buildings of Turkey that begins with the end of World War I, when the new Turkish Republic was born out of the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, includes its democratization in the midst of the Cold War’s competing ideologies, and concludes with the present day, in which Turkey continues to be dramatically transformed through globalization, economic integration, and a renewed appreciation for its Islamic and Ottoman heritage.
Sibel Bozdogan and Esra Akcan explore modern institutional masterpieces and architect-designed buildings through the decades. Their focus includes informal residential plans, and they discuss how these have evolved from small settlements to colossal urban quarters that exist at a slippery threshold of legality. This richly informative history of Turkey’s built environment goes beyond typical surveys of Western modern architecture and is unique in tackling the issue of the modern and contemporary periods that are often omitted in studies of Islamic art and architecture.
Offering a perceptive overview of modern Turkish architecture, this book places it within the larger social, political, and cultural context of the country’s development as a modern nation in the twentieth century.