Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Armenian Architects of Istanbul

Historical  records tell us Armenian architects took on a prominent role in construction of palace buildings in the Ottoman Empire.The staff of Imperial Architects Office that directed such construction projects always included Armenian Architects.Young recruits to this office would be trained within a master-apprentice relationship.In other words, the Imperial Architects Office also operated as a kind of school of Architecture.

Ihlamur Kasrı / Beşiktaş-İstanbul
Nigogos Balyan

Changes in various fields based on example presented by Europe had already begun to be implemented in Ottoman Empire by the 18th century.The first examples of a new style in Architecture that would later be described as the Ottoman Baroque were also seen during this century.

Ragıp Paşa Apartmanı / Beyoğlu-İstanbul
Aram&Isaac Karakash

Still, the Ottoman state's more decisive turn towards Western norms took place in the 19th century.The Tanzimat ( Reorganization ) Edict in 1839 and Islahat ( Reform ) Edict in 1856 form the most importmant turning points in this new direction.Winds of change blowing from the west continued to influence architecture as much as any other field and the 19th century became a period of change for Ottoman architecture.Innovations in the fileds of administration, law, education and in social life led to the emergence of new building types.The Topkapı Palace, an example of traditional palace architecture, had already been adandoned in the first half of the 19th century; and ' European ' style palaces were buildt in its wake.European states were moving their embassies to the Pera/Beyoğlu neighbourhood and were commissioning new embassy buildings to their exclusively selected architects in architectural styles in vogue in their own countries.The Rum ( Greek ) and Armenian communities, benefiting form the new rights they gained with the Tanzimat and Islaha edicts, began to build the large-scale domed, bell-towered churches that were previously prohibited.Mosques buildt immediately after the proclamation of the Tanzimat Edict display a number of innovations in terms of typology and therefore also appearance.In the past, Ottoman bureaucracy was managed from the residence of the Grand Vizier, of the Kazasker ( Chief Military Judge ) and the Şeyhülislam ( Chief Religious Official ) and people would apply here; now buildings of the Grand Vizierate and Ministries were replacing these.Rüştiyes ( Secondary schools ) and idadis ( senior high schools ) had been opened in addition to the traditional madrasahs, and new types of school buildings were necessary for them.The tradional darüşşifas were now replaced by hospital buildings designed on the basis of European models.Previosuly unseen building types such as post offices and train stations began to appear.In the second half of the century, in line with changhing living conditions, in neşghbourhoods such as Galata, Pera/Beyoğlu and Tarlabaşı and later, Cihangir, Taksim, Pangaltı and Kurtuluş where non-Muslims and also Muslims who were trying to acclimatize themselves to the new life-styles; a new residential building type, the apartment block, began to appear.Business life had also changed, the older, two storey hans ( business buildings) featuring central courtyards in the business area that included the Galata, Eminönü, Sultanhamam and Mahmutpaşa neighbourhoods began to be replaced by multi-storey business hans ( official buildings )

Sadabad Camisi / Kağıthane-İstanbul
Sarkis Balyan

The changing of Istanbul's physical appearance during the era of Westernization that took place throughout the entire 19th century -and is also known as Ottoman Modernization- continued, albeit at a slower pace, in the early 10th century, until the founding of the Republic.First and foremostthe Balyans ( Balyan family ), but also other Armenian architects such as Ohannes Serveryan, Mıgırdic Charkyan, Bedros Nemtze, Mihran Azaryan, Hovsep Aznavur ( Aznavour ), Levon Gureghian, the brothers Aram and Isaac Karakaş, Kegham Kavafyan, Yervant Terzian, Andon and Garabed Tulbendciyan who in earlier periods recevied their initial training within the industry, but later also graduated from schools in European countries, and ultimately graduated from the School of Fine Arts, played a great role in this transformation.

Armenian Architects of Istanbul in the Era of Westernization.

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