Building the East Mediterranean Port City of Izmir After the Fall of Cosmopolitanism

Tanis, F. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


Interactions between European experts and Turkish dignitaries largely influenced modern Turkish architecture, particularly in the first half of the 20th century. In recent decades, scholars have widely acknowledged the exchanges between the German-speaking world and Turkey. Building on the existing research, this study highlights the contribution of Dutch architect Dudok to Turkish architecture. The focus of the paper is contrary to the conventional modernist view, and instead shifts the emphasis on the perspective of a port city. Dudok's unrealized project for Konak Square is not only insightful for modern architecture but also provides an invaluable take on designing port cities.
The shift in the perception of space and definition of place in port cities is a direct consequence of global history. After the foundation of the Republic of Turkey, the waterfronts of Izmir became primary sites for the application of the modern planning ideas. However, the question of how to build in port cities after the fall of cosmopolitanism remained overlooked during the 20th century. Instead, how to build a modern country was the main focus of the government. The top-down modernization failed to understand Izmir and its changing dynamics. This process resulted in the rapid transformation of Izmir’s waterfronts as a site for housing development. This experience stands as a testimony for the importance of reading port cities from a holistic perspective.
In response to the complex dynamics of Izmir, Dudok's project for Konak square is used to understand the design process of a port city. In conclusion, this paper points out that Dudok's attempt is a crucial reminder that the waterfront is a Janus-faced area. Understanding the post-cosmopolitan era highlights the characteristics of Izmir’s waterfront. It suggests that decision-makers and designers must equally consider the perception of port cities both from the land and sea. Dudok’s solution for Izmir in the mid 20th century also shines a light on how to design in port cities today.
Period2 Jun 20215 Jun 2021
Event titleEAHN 2020: 6th European Architectural History Network International Meeting (postponed)
Event typeConference
LocationEdinburgh, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational