Modern Turkey Buildings: The Evolution of Turkish Architecture in Modern Times

The modern buildings of Turkey, and the extent of their impact on the contradictions experienced by Turkey, between East and West, between traditional and contemporary, to the architectural manifestations of the difference between religious and secular!

Modern Turkey Buildings: The Evolution of Turkish Architecture in Modern Times

Throughout history, urbanization has been a lasting mark of man on this earth, leaving it as evidence and entrenched landmarks, in a time that is going on and changing.

No, they are not just deaf buildings, but designs that resulted in a geometrical thought that chronicles the features of a specific era with its culture, its customs, its economy, and the genius of its inhabitants.

Then tangible figures will emerge on the ground we the next generation pass through then it tells us a lot more...  

Perhaps the first thing that came to your mind as a reader of this article’s title is that typical image of Ottoman architecture represented by a typical Ottoman mosque such as those widely spread in our ancient Arab cities.

But the fact is that here we have shed light on the details of an architectural era that has long been overlooked, even though it is closely related to Turkey, which we know today, meaning that this stage formed the concept of modern Turkish architecture, that we now see as symbols of the contemporary Turkish Republic.
Buildings of Turkey

Turkish presidential complex building in Ankara.

Through this article, we will review images, concrete evidence and interesting details about the development of Turkish architecture in the last century, and the extent of its profound impact on the conflicts and discrepancies experienced by the Turkish society in that period, between East and West, the local and the global, traditional and contemporary, to the architectural manifestations of the difference between religious and secular!

The First National Architecture Movement "The New Ottoman Empire"

In the late Ottoman era and with the beginnings of the Turkish Republic, founded in 1923, this architectural movement started and adopted a line characterized by its local and classical character. In contrast to Ottoman architecture, new architectural elements such as friezes were used in public buildings during the period of the first architectural movement, but the impact of this movement remained confined to public buildings.

It was both economic and logical to find flat ceilings and insulation techniques in Ankara, Istanbul and the northern regions according to climatic conditions, As a result, the first period of the Republic was characterized by its modern buildings famous for their architectural character and most of them are according to the international style, and gave an impression of the modern aesthetic rules, perhaps the best example of designs of that era in Istanbul, the Grand post office Ptt in the area of Sirkeci designed by Widad Tek.

The Big Post office Ptt is in Sirkeci-Istanbul

The Big Post office Ptt is in Sirkeci-Istanbul.

The 1940s

There was a need to establish state administration buildings in the new capital of Ankara, but the number of architects was insufficient.

 For this reason, as early as 1927, architects from Europe came and worked on part of these projects. The total number of architects and city planners from Germany, Australia, France, and Switzerland was 40 architects and planners. One of the most striking features of this period is the Grand National Turkish Council designed by the Austrian engineer Clemens Holzmeister.

Turkish Grand National Council - Ankara

Turkish Grand National Council - Ankara.

The architectural features of the Grand National Council of Turkey, designed by the Austrian engineer Clemens Holzmeister, have been strongly observed in the simple and symmetrical facades, the duplicate windows, the entrances with columns and stairs.

The Second International Architecture Movement and its Impact on the Buildings of Turkey

The impact of urbanization on the disadvantages of World War II in the absence of materials for construction with the need to import from abroad, and the high cost of construction in Turkey, began in the 1940s and continued in the 1950s.

Here we can say that there is an influence of German architects in Turkey, reflecting the good ties between Turkey and Germany in that period.

Among the monuments that represent this period is Istanbul Radio building in Sisli and the Sisli Mosque in the same area, designed by Wasfi Ajli between 1945 and 1949.

Sisli Mosque - Istanbul

Sisli Mosque - Istanbul.

Turkish high-quality architectural applications in the 1950s

The Hilton Hotel in Istanbul is one of the most important examples of the 1950s. The first 5-star Turkish hotel, it was established by Sedad Hakkı Eldem in the area of Alma Dag and Harbiye and was opened in 1955.

Hilton Hotel - Istanbul

Hilton Hotel - Istanbul.

The hotel is considered one of the most valuable buildings built in an international style in Turkey, but this work has been widely criticized for being identityless because its founder Sedad Hakkı is a  representative of the second national architectural trend, which was affected by the consequences of the Second World War, and because he founded the hotel in partnership with foreign engineers, in addition, the Hilton Hotel project itself has an important symbol of the United States of America and the modern architecture of Western origin!

الجنسية التركية انجليزي الجنسية التركية انجليزي

Slums in the buildings of Turkey

Due to the housing need resulting from migration from villages to cities and due to the lack of adequate supervision of unlicensed construction, indiscriminate construction began to emerge and then expand into major cities such as Istanbul.

After the population increase in the cities of 20.1% from 1940 to 1950, it reached 80.2% between 1950 and 1960, this situation worsened in the 1960s, and slums had a clear identity in cities, and continued in the 1970s, culminating in the 1980s.

Istanbul slums

Consequently, the early years of the Turkish Republic reflected the architectural identity of cities, such as low-floor houses and multi-storey buildings.

But the stage of slums left buildings that give no importance to quality and architectural design, and do not relate at all to the culture of the city, this devastation has reached all cities, especially Istanbul!

Keeping away from traditional doctrine

One of the most important features of this period in general and the sixties in particular, the reluctance of architects inherited style and the beginning of their trend to more complex methods, in line with global developments.

Rixos Grand Ankara

Rixos Grand Ankara.

Ankara Grand Hotel is one of the most famous modern architectural applications established in Turkey in the 1960s. It is also the only five-star hotel in Ankara reopened on May 5, 2009 and was called Rixos Grand Ankara and located in front of the Grand National Turkish Council on Ataturk Street.

The 1960s and 1970s

As of the 1960s, Turkey experienced an economic boom accompanied by a widespread culture of social and civil rights in general. Domestic tourism began to grow, and urbanization spread to the coasts of the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, due to a large number of those wishing to spend a holiday in the coast.

The period of the 1970s was marked by overpopulation and a turbulent political climate. This stage marked an important turning point in Turkish architecture, with the rise of military coups from state control over the construction of public buildings in Turkey and the rate of architecture and construction, thus, this period was the result of differences and problems that persisted in the 1950s and 1960s.

Ataturk Library - Istanbul

Ataturk Library - Istanbul.

One of the architectural applications of this period is Ataturk Library in Taksim district in Istanbul, which was designed by Sedad Hakkı. The library building is characterized by its distinctive visual characteristics and employs the 3D geometry with ease.

The 1980s

The development included vital sectors in the country such as industry, building, and construction, this was reflected in architecture, especially with regard to prefabricated equipment and concrete, which facilitated and accelerated construction, and the impact of this development continues in the architecture of Turkey until this day.


Galleria Ataköy Turkey - Istanbul

Galleria Ataköy Turkey - Istanbul.

One of the most important works of that period in Istanbul was Galleria Ataköy Turkey's first modern shopping center, established by Tabelli Oglu between 1987 and 1988. Due to the success of this project, shopping centers began to spread throughout the country.

Also, an important station was the establishment of the Public Administration of Housing (TOKI) in 1984, and the private sector began to finance the construction of the suburbs.

شعار توكي toki

The 1990s and modern architectural styles

Since 1990 and until today, various forms and revolutionary designs of architecture have spread in Turkey. This may in part be due to global openness. This trend contributed to the formation of tourist buildings in particular and then spread to other construction sectors.

Also noticeable in this period is the increasing dominance of the private sector compared to previous periods.

From 2000 to the present day

As a result of openness in Turkey, the spread of the Internet and increased capital, architecture has been affected in Turkey in general and in Istanbul in particular.

In recent years, the engineering of public projects has tended to abandon the use of flat roofs, and the classic forms of façades have been replaced by more dynamic forms such as empty, complete and deviant curves, and multi-use projects have replaced single-use projects.

Modern building - Istanbul

Modern building - Istanbul.

The green certificate is one of the pioneering steps adopted by the Ministry of Environment and Cities towards the preservation of the environment. The green certificate distinguishes Turkey’s buildings which are being built as environmentally friendly buildings in terms of many applications that will facilitate the daily life of residents and reduce harmful emissions. Saving energy and facilitating the use of renewable and cheap energy sources that contribute to increased investment in Istanbul in particular and Turkey in general.

Environmentally friendly building

Modern building - Istanbul.

The Turkish government has recently been working to increase the safety standards in modern real estate. In addition to modernizing old buildings to improve their resistance to earthquake-resistant buildings, the Ministry of Cities and Environment has issued a new executive regulation to regulate building safety standards from earthquakes and disasters.

Turkey was no longer in need of more foreign architects. In 2005, the Istanbul Municipality opened design competitions in developed areas, in the Kartal and Buyukcekmece areas in which the Iraqi engineer Zaha Hadid has won the competition. 

A picture of Zaha Hadid's design for Kartal area in Istanbul

A picture of Zaha Hadid's design for Kartal area in Istanbul .

One of the leading buildings in this period is Sapphire Tower Istanbul, the tallest building in Turkey, and the first eco-friendly building in Turkey.

It was designed by Tabanlıoğlu and was completed in March 2011 with a height of 261 meters. In addition, many skyscrapers are expected to be built in light of this transformation.

 Sapphire Tower Istanbul

 Sapphire Tower Istanbul.

Mosques designs and the conflict between the old and modern

In the early years of the Turkish Republic, the establishment of mosques was a major feature of the state's projects. The remaining mosques of the Ottoman Empire were no longer sufficient because:

  • Economic recovery after the end of the Second World War
  • Natural population growth
  • Increase migration from villages to cities
  • The political debate over the identity of mosques in Turkey started between East and West, tradition and modernity, Islamic and secular!

About 70 thousand mosques spread in the areas of Turkey resulted from Turkish methods of the last centuries, and from 1960 the design of contemporary mosques in different cities of Anatolia has begun.

Kocatepe Mosque in Ankara is a good example of this conflict. For many years, it has been marked by a tug of war between traditional and modern architects and designers until it was finally opened in 1987.

The mosque is characterized by its four minarets with 88 meters length. Although it is a modern mosque, it is actually designed in the classical Ottoman style. It is considered an eclectic building inspired by the architecture of mosques such as Selimiye in Edirne, Sehzede and Sultan Ahmad in Istanbul.

All of the above made the mosque a place of positive and negative criticism for a long time.

Mosque of Kocatepe in Ankara

Mosque of Kocatepe in Ankara.

Turkey's mosques and searching for the future

It is known that the human soul tends to everything that is beautiful, but if it comes to the architectural design of the mosques, it repetition made miss meanings of beauty inherent in the lack of renewal in the style and commitment to the tradition of inherited architectural designs of the Ottoman mosques, even if it’s in reality full of splendor and elegance.

In this context, it is necessary to refer to the modernization stations embodying the concept of creativity, when it comes to creativity in design, there are no limits committed, and this applies to a variety of modern designs of the mosques of modern Turkey, the following are examples of them:

Green Valley Mosque 2010

The architect Adnan Kazim Oglu attempted to express the small world through designing this mosque, where the hemispheres or earth were linked in an artistic and distinctive way. The mosque is located in the urban area of the Asian side of Istanbul.

Green Valley Mosque - Istanbul

Green Valley Mosque - Istanbul.

Şakirin Mosque 2009

It was designed by architect Khasraf Taila and architect Zainab Fadel Oglu, who designed the interior design of the mosque and is the first woman to design a mosque!

The mosque maintains the traditional architecture with modernity at the same time, and it took four years to build it on an area of 10.000 m 2 and includes two minarets with a height of 35 m.

Şakirin Mosque Istanbul

The dome is made of aluminum composite, the unique pulpit is made of acrylic material and it is so beautiful. The mihrab in the mosque is different from the famous Ottoman mihrab, was designed in the form of a large blue crescent in the middle of a copper circle decorated with embossed decoration of Seljuk style Geometric engineering.

Şakirin Mosque - Istanbul

Şakirin Mosque - Istanbul.

Çamlıca Republic Mosque 2018

Located on the green hill of Çamlıca on the Asian side of Istanbul. It was built by the instructions of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in August 2013, moreover, It is the largest mosque in Turkey. It has six minarets, four of which are 107 meters long and two of which are 90 meters high. The dome of the mosque is 72 meters high with a diameter of 34 meters.

Çamlıca Republic Mosque - Istanbul

Çamlıca Republic Mosque - Istanbul.

شقق للبيع بالتقسيط انجليزي شقق للبيع بالتقسيط انجليزي

Edited by: Imtilak Real Estate ©

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