World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Urban Theory and History (050) - Panel

· Date: MON 19, 5 - 7 pm

· Language: English

· Description:
Chair: Dr. Aizan Ali Mat Zin (University of Malaya)

Paper discussant: Arzu Kocabas (Associate Proessor - Dr., Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Turkey)

Paper presenter: Pedro Azara (Dr., UPC-ETSAB, Spain), “Architecture in Baghdad in the 50´s: Aalto, Sert and Dudok in the never built as planned Civic Centre”
King Faysal II and the Development Board began a series of architectural and urbanistic projects by well-known architects in order to transform Baghdad, still a provincial city in the 50´s. Among those projects by Le Corbusier, Gropius, Doxiadis and Wright, the Civic Centre, in the centre of the city, stands as a monumental project involving three main architects: Sert, Aalto and Dudok, among others. Problems with the new autorities at the beginning of the 60´s forced the architects to leave what would have been a huge cultural and public centre with museums and different public institutions. The paper will present documents from the Sert, Aalto and Dudok archives, which are still relatively unknown: letters, hand written notes and sketches, reflecting the relationship between those architects and the relations with iraqi authorities. Part of this material was used in an exhibition organised in 2008: City of Mirages. Baghdad, from Wright to Venturi, at the COAC (Barcelona) and Casa Árabe (Madrid) with the collaboration of the Baghdad University. The paper will focus on the Civic Centre projects, from the late 50´s to 1964, in relationship with all the architectural projects ordered by the Development Board, a relation most important as all these architects new each other and were in contact thanks to the different Baghdad projects. Dudok was the architect who received most of the projects (three of them, around a large public space), but it was Aalto who did the most important one: the National Museum for the Gulbenkian collection, a project that was redone entirely, but still never built, at the beginning of the 80´s by Aalto studio (after Aalto´s death). A sketch by Sert has puzzled critics; its title says: Civic Centre. Thanks to the documentation at the Dudok archives we know now almost for sure that it was a first stage of a project for the mayoralty of Baghdad, suggested by Dudok, a project that was also abandonned due to financial restrictions.

Paper presenter: Deniz Aktan Kucuk (PhD student, Bahcesehir University, Turkey), “New Laws of Dwelling: Sacred Homes - Uncanny Streets”
The insistence on the portrayal of the urban life in the literary texts of 19th century Ottoman literature with a special emphasis on the public spaces gives us significant clues about how the unforeseen dramatic effects of modernization efforts on the daily life are perceived. The fears originated by these effects articulate themselves with the tension generated between public and private that especially in the novels of this period what holds sway is a feeling of “the loss of the dwelling” or “the destruction of what is familiar”. Losing the “ground” which makes the world understandable/interpretable is also identified with the loss of the home that literally, “placelessness” (bimekanl’k) is the worst punishment, the uncanniest situation for the characters that lost themselves in the public spaces. The dualism that emerged between the “sacred” traditional dwellings and the “new” public spaces is reflected in the didactic tones of the narrators, who can also be taken as the new law-makers of an age of total losses. Characters torn between two worlds (read: East/West) and tempted by the new public spaces (read: West) are portrayed in need of new laws, new codes, new traditions that should be invented for them to regain the power or know how to interpret the world. My proposed work focuses on the scope of these laws, the motives from which they originated and their relation with the alterations in the perception of place. By working on the literary texts, I want to focus on the conceptualization of place, the alterations in the usage of the words concerning place (mekan) and by doing that, I want to discuss the “call” which Tanzimat writers responded.

Paper presenter: Dr. Aizan Ali Mat Zin (Lecturer, University of Malaya, Malaysia), “Al-Attas and his Contributions to the Islamic Architecture in Malaysia”
This study sets out to uncover the socio-cultural and educational roots which underlie the cohesive system of thought assembled by the highly respected 21st century Malaysian scholar Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas (hereafter referred to simply as “Al-Attas”) as the outcome of the vigorous Islamic resurgence in the field of Education during the 1970s and 1980s. This is a resurgence of knowledge which has deeply influenced the socio-political fabric of Malaysia, which has come to be known as “the Islamization of Knowledge”. The different elements in Al-Attas’ background which have fused together to form his unique worldview have not previously been explored from this historical perspective, and this is the rationale for the research. This remarkable scholar has not only played a key role in this “resurgence of knowledge”, but has also led to a new awareness in Malaysia of its intellectual heritage, its history and its civilisation. This new awareness has not previously been attributed to Al-Attas himself, however. It is for this reason that the study focuses on such practical contributions to the foundation of the International Institute of Islamic Studies (ISTAC), which is in itself a mighty symbol of the Islamic worldview. ISTAC is additionally a fine example of Al-Attas’ architectural creativity, incorporating design features of such buildings as Al-Hambra in Granada, in Spain. Historical and cultural influences on the final plans for ISTAC are discussed in this paper. The research design of the study is largely qualitative, since it asks the exploratory questions of how early influences in Al-Attas? life combined to shape his unique world view, and how this world view is manifested in his practical contributions to the Islamic architecture in Malaysia. Library research is a first step in establishing through published sources that these early influences on Al-Attas; thought system have not as yet been researched. Primary data is gathered from personal in-depth interviews with Al-Attas himself, inferred from close reading of his various publications, and from ongoing contact with him via email and telephone.

Paper presenter: Nezih R. Aysel, Güldehan Atay and Ece Postalci Altinkaya (Dr.Architects, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University), “An interpretation of spatial characteristics of Bodrum vernacular architecture with a comparison of holiday villas”
In this study, different approaches of vernacular architecture will be examined by comparing three holiday village complexes in Bodrum. The first sample is Demir Holiday Village, which was completed in 1987, that keeps spatial characteristics of vernacular architecture in scale of materials, equipments and use of space, with a great respect to natural environment and the old settlements. The architects have re-designed traditional forms of local architecture with a compatible synthesis of old and new materials. The second sample is Aktur, one of the oldest holiday villages in Bodrum, which was completed 1972, can be viewed as a successful example of interpretation of the spatial organization of the old settlements. Third sample is a totally random village, which is a very typical and ordinary design that can be seen in all Turkey coastal habitations. Many of the new holiday villages built today, takes only typological references from old, disregarding the spatial characteristics of vernacular architecture. Spatial characteristics of the above holiday villages will be examined according to terms of homogeneity, heterogeneity, glocalization and hybridization as given by Hans Ibelings in his book “Supermodernism in the Age of Globalization”. Homogeneity can be observed in Demir Holiday Village, which is completely in harmony with old settlements, and a simplified version of local architecture. In urban scale, homogeneity of old settlements in Bodrum is broken by new villages and private properties built close to these towns. Aktur can be taken as a hybrid solution in holiday villages, a new design which interprets the spatial organization of the vernacular architecture. The last example, a selection from ordinary holiday villages, being completely different from old urban tissue and having only formal quotations from vernacular architecture, leads a heterogeneous perception of space.