The changing dynamics of the architectural profession in Turkey, 1960s - 1970s: the rise of participatory design and the experimental case of İzmit new settlements project
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The post-WWII period was dense of political, economic, and social transformations whose repercussions spread well beyond the Western scene. Although Turkey didn’t participate directly into the conflict, it was nevertheless invested by this set of changes that turned out to be crucial in directing the internal dynamics of the country. Moreover, the widespread capitalist development and the consequent accelerating industrialization, drove Turkey along a turbulent process, full of continuous and multi-faceted transformations, which include unpredictable national politics, emerging new economies and social structures, and in particular, rapid and uncontrolled urbanization. This climate of change and radical transformations eventually affected also the discourse and the practice of architecture. After the collapse of CIAM, and the orthodox ideology of modern architecture, the climate of austerity originated in the post war era determined an internal crisis in the architectural discipline, and a profound re-foundation of its objectives and duties. In particular, the recognition of the social inequality derived from the post-war urban renewal programs in Western nations, eventually threatened the very credibility of architecture. This renewed criticism aiming to question the social roles of architecture, starting from the beginning of the 1960’s entered decisively into the architectural debate in Turkey. The aim of the thesis is to evaluate and trace the changing dynamics of the architectural profession, regarding the concern of ‘social awareness’ as a central topic in the Turkish architectural agenda of the period. Following the trajectory of this discourse, the study attempts to answer the following questions: What were the underlying causes that led the query for the redefinition of the social content of architecture, and the reconsideration of the moral obligations of the architects? For which reasons architects were encouraged to make an introverted criticism? What affected architects to seek for a radical occupational change in the conventional architectural practice? Focusing both on the Turkish and the international architectural debate, in the period comprised between the 1960s and the 1970s, this study aims to emphasize the notion of ‘user participation’ as a new tradition of thought developed within the socialist, left-wing architectural criticism. By challenging the authoritative practice of architecture, this phenomenon has addressed more equitable and democratic priorities in the generation of the space, particularly in the practices of housing. The attempt of the thesis is to pursue the rise of the ‘participatory design’ as a new architectural term which represents the consciousness of social responsibility, and to find out how Turkish architects were influenced/if influenced by their counterparts through transnational exchange of views. Eventually the thesis focuses on the re-evaluation of the ‘İzmit New Settlements Project’, an archetypal experiment to illustrate the changing dynamics in the Turkish architectural agenda. The proposed case study will investigate the presence of possible analogies with the international architectural debate. The ultimate aim of the re-evaluation of the ‘İzmit New Settlements Project’, is to enlighten its highly comprehensive program enabling the ‘user participation’ on a large scale, and to stress how it can be considered as a favorable alternative to the housing production policies for the low-income groups in Turkey, by featuring the revised complemental the dialogue between the architects, the society, and the political authorities.
KeywordsChanging dynamics of the architectural profession
Social awareness in architecture
Impaired power relations between architect and user
Alternative production of space
İzmit new settlements project