Architectures of the Intertwined East and West: Contact Zones of the 19th Century Izmir House

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İzmir, amongst Eastern Mediterranean port cities, has represented compelling architectural and urban developments during the long nineteenth century. Due to their particular geographical position, the port city of İzmir has been considered a place where "East meets West". Building on what Edward Said calls intertwined history, this paper proposes a lens to read cross-cultural architectural practices at entangled territories by closely examining paired determinants from the East and the West. With the duality in mind, this study borrows the concept of "contact zone" from the field of linguistics to identify the correlation of the Eastern and Western norms, knowledge, ethics, values, techniques that led to architectural knowledge production and architectural practices. Mary Louise Pratt coined the contact zone as "spaces where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination." This study departs from "asymmetrical relations of power" that exist in architectural practices. Not only does the concept allow us to understand the characteristics and dissemination of architectural knowledge, but also it allows us to address the unspoken and invisible process of decision-making in architectural practices.
To test the concept for architecture, the 19th-century row-house development in İzmir, i.e., İzmir house, is an appropriate concrete case. Dissecting the building and construction process of the İzmir house through the lens of the contact zone reveals how much the West is present in the East, or vice versa. In conclusion, this paper shows that besides material artifacts and explicit architectural knowledge; socio-cultural contexts and values are also embedded in the architectures. By shining a light on the underlying patterns of the social, spatial, cultural encounters, the concept of "contact zone" establishes a better understanding of the specificity of the knowledge that diverse variables have collectively generated.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital Proceedings critic|all International Conference on Architectural Design & Criticism, São Paulo 25-26 March 2021
Subtitle of host publication#dual-ectics
EditorsSilvia Colmenares, Leandro Medrano
Place of PublicationMadrid, São Paulo
Publishercritic|all PRESS
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)978-84-09-29471-8
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventCritic|all IV: International Conference on Architectural Design and Criticism: #dual-ectics - São Paulo, Brazil
Duration: 25 Mar 202126 Mar 2021


ConferenceCritic|all IV: International Conference on Architectural Design and Criticism
CitySão Paulo
Internet address


  • Intertwined histories
  • contact zone
  • port city architectures
  • İzmir


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