From École des Beaux-Arts to École Sedad Hakkı Eldem: A History of Architecture Education and the Formation of Urban Design Pedagogy in Turkey

F. Tanis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific

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Transnational exchanges between France and the Ottoman Empire, the German-speaking world and Turkey, respectively, were foundational in the professionalization of Ottoman-Turkish architects. In regard to changing regimes, the architecture school Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi in Istanbul was the key node for pedagogical exchanges and the development of a pioneer architectural program. This paper focuses on three periods between 1882 and 1968 marked with pivotal moments of encounters in the history of the architecture school to have a better understanding of the formation of an urban design pedagogy in Turkey.

Established in 1882 by Osman Hamdi, the École des Beaux-Arts served as a model for the architecture school until the appointment of Ernst Egli in 1930. Egli made radical changes to the curriculum in parallel to the modern movement and linked architectural competitions to education. Furthermore, Egli’s suggestion to his assistant Sedad H. Eldem of finding the source of knowledge in vernacular architecture gave a new direction to the architectural pedagogy. From 1936 until his sudden death in 1938, Bruno Taut led the architectural program, placing specific focus on housing in architectural design studios and introducing the concepts of Zeilenbau and Existenzminimum—the theme of the CIAM II held in Frankfurt-am-Main in 1929.

Until the next institutional reform in 1968, Eldem consolidated the architectural program and pedagogy, which are still well-protected today by a staunch three-generation of lecturers. Surveying vernacular architecture has been an educational focus, and Existenzminimum has become the norm in architectural design studios. Eldem expanded architectural education to offices of architect-lecturers who worked on architectural competitions with students. Born from transnational exchanges, the École Sedad Hakkı Eldem ingrained new ways of thinking about architecture and urban design in Turkey through French notions (e.g. atelier, esquisse, béton armé, project) that made Ottoman concepts obsolete and paved a new path for the architecture profession in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventSymposium of Urban Design History and Theory - TU Delft, Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 1 Nov 20233 Nov 2023


ConferenceSymposium of Urban Design History and Theory
Abbreviated titleSUDHT
Internet address


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