Italian architects and builders in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey, 1780-2000
Istanbul, Italian Cultural Institute, March 8 – 9, 2013
Boğaziçi University, March 10, 2013
This international conference is the fourth meeting in the framework of a long term project on Italian presence in the architecture and urbanism of the Mediterranean countries. Former editions, promoted by the School of Architecture of the University of Florence and other Italian, Egyptian, Tunisian, Albanian and French academic and cultural institutions, were held in Alexandria (2007), Tunis (2009) and Tirana (2011). They explored contributions and individual histories of Italian builders who acted on the margins of the colonial encounter, if not thoroughly inside it. With the Istanbul meeting, our aim is to understand more in depth the historical connections and networks that allowed a small diaspora of Italian architects, engineers, contractors and artists contribute to the transformations of modern urban Turkey and, in previous periods, of regions and cities in their final stages of Ottoman rule.
The environments on which these actors of change intervened were still largely "Ottoman" in architectural and urban terms: characterized by a plural demographic composition, by the absence of a homogeneous bourgeoisie, by flexibility in the architectural fabric, with a sharp contrast between vernacular/residential and official/monumental architecture. They approached these spaces, remarkably different from the environment of their provenance, without the backing or the authority of a colonial institution, but rather as consultants and participants, negotiating their place in a constantly redefined project of modernization. In some cases they transferred to the new context their know-how, along with the building types and forms they had left at home. In others, they engaged in a dialogue with the local traditions, producing an interesting métissage, a sort of architectural “lingua franca”. Finally, many of them contributed to the definition of local official styles and idioms, where and when this was demanded by the transition from an imperial to a national order.
In the Istanbul meeting of March 2013, experienced and younger scholars with diverse backgrounds from five different countries will discuss, on the basis of original research and archival findings, the Italian historical imprint on places and spaces ranging from Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul to Salonica, Plovdiv and the cities of the Romanian Principalities.
Istanbul, Italian Cultural Institute
+90 212 3596544
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