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Architecture

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One of the basic dilemmas of architecture in Turkey is the question where it fits in the global architectural scene. This identity question concerns both the architectural styles used, and its norms and overriding philosophy. The question of what ‘Turkish architecture’ is forms the basis of a struggle that various professionals working in the field are engaged in. There are also those, just as in the field of design, who are skeptical of the need for a ‘Turkish architecture/design’ to emerge. The aforementioned struggle often results in limited binary discourses such as “architecture in this country exists/doesn't exist” or “we should protect/produce our own values.” It also forms the basis of most of  the architecture publications that actually are few in terms of numbers, the reward mechanisms, chambers and other  associations, and even of professional education. In other words, these institutions keep the aforementioned restricted binary discourses going. Although the construction industry is powerful and omnipresent in Turkey, the quality of the built environment is often criticized (and often quite rightly so). At the same time, the “authentic” architecture in Turkey is only looked at through the binary oppositions of local versus global. From this perspective, no matter how positive certain statistics seem (such as the high number of universities with faculties/departments of architecture, the number of architects, the power of the construction industry etc.) it is important to understand and take into account the aforementioned struggle before drawing conclusions about the state of architecture in Turkey. It can be argued that architecture in Turkey shot itself in the foot. Discourses may be ideologically (politically) tainted, out of context and/or extremely generalized, which results in “stuck” readings. Perhaps new and fresh readings which dissect the existing discourses, which decipher the links with other factors that affect architecture directly or indirectly, and which reconstruct it, will emerge not from architecture itself but from other areas: primarily contemporary art but also literature, sociology, economy, and others. The following paragraphs on architecture, urban planning and landscape design take snapshots of the architectural environment in Turkey, and is also enumerating, albeit within the limitations mentioned above, the institutions, the people and the publications that form this environment.

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