TDST 7.2 Spring 1995

VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE AND IDENTITY POLITICS: THE CASE OF THE ‘TURKISH HOUSE’
Sibel Bozdogan

THE TRANSLATION OF TRADITION: A COMPARATIVE DIALECTIC
James Steele

TRADITION VS. MODERNITY: THE QUEST FOR A CULTURAL IDENTITY
Nadia M. Alhasani

CATCHING A PASSING MOMENT: THE REDEPLOYMENT OF TRADITION
Masood A. Khan

THE TOWN OF GHARDAÏA IN M’ZAB, ALGERIA: BETWEEN TRADITION AND MODERNITY
Giancarlo Cataldi, Rasid Abdelhamid, and Fabio Selva

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Volume 7.2

VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE AND IDENTITY POLITICS: THE CASE OF THE ‘TURKISH HOUSE’
Sibel Bozdogan
The traditional “Turkish House” constitutes a recurrent theme in twentieth-century Turkish architectural culture. This paper looks at the appreciation/appropriation of traditional house forms by Western and/or Western-educated architects. It focuses, first, on the modernist/rationalist readings of the early Republican period; and, second, on the more recent neotraditionalist experiments with vernacular forms — more specifically, on the highly publicized work of Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk for a suburban development outside Istanbul. Discussing these two episodes in the context of the fervent nationalism of the 1930s and the more liberal and postmodern climate of the 1980s, respectively, the paper addresses how the same architectural forms can be enframed within very different cultural and political agendas.

THE TRANSLATION OF TRADITION: A COMPARATIVE DIALECTIC
James Steele
The rapidity of environmental degradation and the recent popularity of the concept of sustainability have made clear how successful traditional societies have been in coexisting with nature. Architects, in responding to this rising awareness, are searching for models of the reinterpretation of tradition, seeking examples and guidelines. Three practitioners who anticipated the need for a reexamination of vernacular principles may be seen to offer such examples, and their methods are now of great interest to others. Abdel Wahed El-Wakil of Egypt, Rasem Badran of Jordan, and Ricardo Legorreta of Mexico have each sought valid ways to translate their cultural heritages into architectural forms. The work of these three architects is here presented as offering strategies of intentional derivation, rational historicism, and elemental minimalism, respectively. The work reveals the diverse ways in which the complex problem of reinterpretation may be approached by architects dedicated to this search, and the different results that may emerge.

TRADITION VS. MODERNITY: THE QUEST FOR A CULTURAL IDENTITY
Nadia M. Alhasani
In the quest for a more sustainable environment, there appears to be a need to confront issues of tradition vs. modernity and culture vs. technology in a world where boundaries once dividing these issues are collapsing and differences once separating them are disappearing. This study demonstrates, through examination of a series of built examples, the successful integration of tradition and modernity as they are reflected in Muslim cultures. In practice, the notion of culture and technology is addressed through the built context, ultimately establishing the identity of a society through its architecture. This paper argues for the preservation of a culture through understanding the level of symbolism established in its built environment: the higher the level of symbolism, the further detached an artifact becomes from its place of origin. This research focuses on possible scenarios involving the conscious application of past and present typologies of form and technology in search of recognizable cultural identity.

CATCHING A PASSING MOMENT: THE REDEPLOYMENT OF TRADITION
Masood A. Khan
This report describes a hitherto-isolated culture in northern Pakistan that has recently undergone rapid exposure to the outside world. Rapid change in Karimabad, a town of 4,600 people in the Hunza Valley, has caused conflicts between cultural inertia and the forces of progress and modernization to surface and produced visible instances of cultural persistence and adaptation. It is particularly remarkable in Karimabad that house forms have displayed considerable resilience. In particular, the continued use of the traditional house core as an element in newer plan types incorporating alien values indicates the continued power of local values. A contrast to this persistence can be found in the free exercise of choice between old and new construction techniques as new technologies have been introduced to the town. The resilience of local values provides the basis for the continued relevance of traditional forms in architectural and planning practice, as residents and outside experts work to create a sustainable future for the mountain community. This situation has forced professionals in the field to reflect on current debates in academia about the nature of tradition.

THE TOWN OF GHARDAÏA IN M’ZAB, ALGERIA: BETWEEN TRADITION AND MODERNITY
Giancarlo Cataldi, Rasid Abdelhamid, and Fabio Selva
Scholars and architects have long admired the urban structure of the five towns of the Oued M’zab Valley. Originally built by the Hybadites, a schismatic sect of Muslims, the towns consist of stratified masses of houses on rocky peaks, each dominated by a mosque and minaret, elevated on the skyline like a divine finger. Many common points may be discerned between the tendencies of contemporary architecture and this simple, rational architecture, which expresses a unified vision of community. However, in recent decades the towns have undergone uncontrolled change that has radically disfigured their morphology. At present, Ghardaïa, the most exemplary of the towns, is in great need of a conservation effort that will enable residents to better integrate the traditional and the modern. This should not be interpreted as museumification, but as a return to the aware self-control practices that once distinguished the life and history of the town.

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