While vernacular architecture is typically defined as architecture designed around local needs and available construction materials, a critical approach to the understudied Anatolian vernacular can be found. This is bolstered by Turkish architecture’s unique negotiation between conserving its cultural heritage and adapting to global modernisation movements. In this vein, Yunus Emre Institute in London hosted award-winning architect Mert Eyiler on Thursday 8th July, 6pm (BST) for its second seminar of its “Architecture and Design Talks” series taking place online. Eyiler discussed Anatolian Vernacular and Cengiz Bektaş, one of a few architects to reinterpret Turkish vernacular housing traditions.
It was within the architectural theories of the architect Cengiz Bektaş that the Anatolian Vernacular architecture became described in the context of the social and cultural from which it was based. Starting the talk with a map of his thoughts surrounding Anatolian vernacular, Eyiler set the critical and nuanced tone of the seminar early on. Eyiler, mentioned his initial struggle to feel a connection to Bektaş’s work, traced his steps to realising how powerful Bektaş’s work was and stated his admiration for Bektaş’s ability to enable the elegant communication between of engineering and architecture. Grouping Bektaş with modernist architects that included Alpaslan Ataman, the first subject of the “ Architecture and Design Talks” series, Eyiler noted the almost synchronous maturation of works of these architects. Their development, he claimed, saw modernist culture and Turkish culture being carried together within the architectural discipline.
Bektaş, in a series of books and drawings from the 1970s-1980s focusing on select geographies in Anatolia, was able to outline the people and architecture of Anatolia in a holistic way. Eyiler, touched on the unique crossroads on which Anatolia was seated on leading to its complex and textured history which could be read differently from different temporal and spatial positions. Bektaş observed Anatolia from the inside. In a series of books and drawings from the 1970s-1980s focusing on select geographies in Anatolia, Bektaş was able to outline the people and architecture of Anatolia holistically. Touching on Bektaş’s influence on his own work, Eyiler approached Bektaş critically and challenged the audience’s perceptions of Anatolian vernacular and modernism.
The talk ended with a lively Q&A session from the audience.
The recording of the event can be watched on Yunus Emre Institute in London’s YouTube channel (@yeelondra).
“Architecture and Design Talks” series maps the development of Turkish culture through exploring the shifts within its architecture and design over the last two centuries. Contemporary figures in design and architecture are invited to discuss their own work in regard to Turkish cultural heritage as well as their views on their 20th century modernist predecessors. The audience are welcomed to engage with the guest speakers during Q&A sessions at the end of the talks. Future iterations of the series can be followed on Yunus Emre Institute in London’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages (@yeelondra) or on their website (https://yeelondon.org.uk/)
Mert Eyiler completed his undergraduate studies at Anadolu University and Istanbul Technical University, and his master’s degree at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. He worked with Nevzat Sayın at NSMH between 1996-2006 and founded his own practice, MeMA, in 2007. He taught architectural design studios at Yıldız Technical University, Istanbul Kultur University, Istanbul Bilgi University and Bahçeşehir University. After his various national and international successes as an emerging architectural practice, he moved his practice to the UK and established MeMALoNDoN. Having achieved many national and international successes such as the Arkitera Young Architect Award and “40 Under 40”, Eyiler became one of the TEDxKaş speakers held with the theme of “Escape to the Future” in 2018.
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 Editor of Natura magazine on Architecture and Interiors in Natural Stone. Karakuş currently teaches visual design and architecture at Medipol University in Istanbul and previously was a lecturer and guest critic at architecture and design schools such as Istanbul Technical University, Pratt Institute School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, and Politecnico di Milano. Karakuş has curated exhibitions on design and architecture at venues such as the London Design Fair, the London Design Festival, ArchMoscow, Venice Architecture Biennial, Istanbul Design Week and Istanbul Design Biennial.