Architecture and Design Talks: A new talk series by Yunus Emre Institute in London begins with award-winning architect Gökhan Avcıoğlu


Mapping the development of Turkish culture, Yunus Emre Institute in London has launched a new online talk series which invites significant figures in art, architecture, and design fields to connect Turkey’s modernist past to its contemporary future and pinpoint where Turkish architecture is today.



For centuries, Turkey’s culture has uniquely evolved through its negotiation between conserving its cultural heritage and adapting to global Westernisation and modernisation movements. Yunus Emre Institute hosted the inaugural session of its Architecture and Design Talk Series yesterday evening with the award-winning architect Gökhan Avcıoğlu as their guest speaker. This series, moderated by the noted designer, curator, and writer Gökhan Karakuş, will invite contemporary figures in design and architecture to discuss their own work in regard to Turkish cultural heritage and its development over the past century. 


 Under the title “Alpaslan Ataman’s Drawings of the Spatial Typology of Ottoman Architecture”, Avcıoğlu explored the world created by Ataman (1944 – 2020), a talented architect and researcher who had published two major books and collaborated with the renown 20th century architect Sedat Hakkı Eldem. The talk, delivered through the lively dialogue between Karakuş and Avcıoğlu, touched on key questions not thoroughly tackled in contemporary architecture. Avcıoğlu, introducing Ataman through his own relationship with him, recalled their partnership brewed in a café on the skirts of the Teşvikiye Mosque, asking large questions such as “what is architecture” and upholding a dialogue reiterating the significance of the discipline. Avcıoğlu pressed the significance of “thinking by hand” for Ataman, who sketched ceaselessly and looked both laterally and temporally to locate the meaning behind buildings. 


 Ataman was trying to find a universal language of spatial systems and geometries within architecture that stretched across millennia. Through his works, he connected these themes to what was seen in cultural traditions in Turkey. Discussing the development of Ottoman architecture, Ataman’s mathematical and systematic method of study shined through the talk as well as his unique habit of comparing both formal and domestic architecture to develop a cohesive body of research. 



Tying the past to today, Avcıoğlu demonstrated Ataman’s influences in his own work at GAD Architecture, seen for example in their “Media City” project commissioned by the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce. The talk ended with a Q&A session with the audience members, which included author and Middle East culture writer, Dina Darke! 

The Architecture and Design series will go on to welcome fascinating guest speakers such as architects Süha Özkan, Mert Eyiler, Pelin Derviş and Gül İrapoğlu, designer Dilara Fındıkoğlu, ceramisist Jale Yılmabasar, graphic designer Ömer Durmaz, and digital artist Candaş Şişman. 


About the guest speaker: Gökhan Avcıoğlu is an award-winning architect and is the principal and founder of GAD – Global Architectural Development. Avcıoğlu was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1960 and completed his education in KSU/BA in Architecture. With projects undertaken across the world, among Avcıoğlu’s most recent award-winning projects are Media City, AKH KNDU Villas, and KUUM Hotel and Residences. 




 About the moderator: The series moderator Gökhan Karakuş is a designer, curator and writer concentrating on the intersection of design and architecture.  Educated in architecture at Vassar College and Columbia University in New York, he later founded Emedya Design in Istanbul, Turkey specialising in digital and computational design. As a writer Karakuş has written for Architectural Review, Architects’ Journal, Wallpaper and Detail as well as being Editor of Natura magazine on Architecture and Interiors in Natural Stone.  



About the series:
This series will try to map how Turkish culture has developed in architectural and design fields over the last two centuries as it attempted to retain its unique cultural values while adapting to global changes. Contemporary figures in design and architecture will be invited to discuss their own work in regard to Turkish cultural heritage as well as their views on their 20th century modernist predecessors. 


The talk can be watch on our YouTube channel, yeelondra