Architecture, Historiography and Rationalism: Symbolic Discourse in Modern Turkish Architecture in the 20th Century

A symbolic discourse has been created in Turkish architectural literature during the Republican period, which has constituted, changed and reconstituted the relationship between content and form. The Western historicist notions that ignited the search for new syntheses and modernization in the Ottoman Empire during the last quarter of the 19th century, also caused for the first time the architectural thinking based on a Western theoretical basis. The National Architecture ideal, which is the fruit of such theoretical basis, became the dominant architectural style of Turkey also in 1920s. However, the Ottoman search for synthesis was dropped at this time, and the idea of creating a new civilization was adopted. Therefore, reforms made in every field for this purpose quickly involved architectural aesthetics as well. Because the Modern architecture, which was adopted as the official architectural style in 1930s, was charged with a mission to represent the opposite of what was rejected, symbolic meaning became the main content of architectural form. Consequently, architectural theory in Western norms could not find the opportunity to flourish and was subordinated by a symbolic discourse that was based on constructing oppositions between the shapes of the past and today.


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