Armenian architects, who have built many well-known structures in Istanbul, are remembered in an exhibition that opened Wednesday at the Istanbul Modern. The exhibition displays photos of 100 buildings constructed by 40 Armenian architects who lived in Istanbul in the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century
An exhibition titled “Armenian Architects of Istanbul in the Era of Westernization,” featuring photos of 100 buildings constructed by 40 Armenian architects who lived in Istanbul at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, opened Wednesday at the Istanbul Modern.
The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency, Istanbul Modern, International Hrant Dink Foundation and Architects and Engineers Solidarity Association, or HAYCAR.
At a press conference for the opening of the exhibition, chief curator Levent Çalikoglu said the exhibition featured more than 100 works by 40 Armenian architects whose names had been forgotten, adding that the educational event would also shed light on Istanbul’s recent history. Çalikoglu said architect Hasan Kuruyazici visually documented the buildings on every street in Kurtulus, Pangalti, Taksim, Cihangir, Tarlabasi, Tünel, Galata, Eminönü and Mahmutpasa.
“There will also be two short films screened during the exhibition and visitors will learn about the buildings thanks to the sound system in the exhibition area. In parallel with the exhibition, designed by Erkal Levi, a panel discussion on Istanbul’s Armenian architects will be organized and visitors will see the buildings accompanied by guides.”
Istanbul Capital of Culture Agency Deputy Secretary-General Mehmet Gürkan said the modernization period that started during the Tanzimat reform era brought innovations in cultural fields and resulted in changes to physical structures. He said settlement areas were also developed during that period and the city needed architects.
Gürkan said Armenian architects made many works during that period. “Among the ones working for the palace, the Balyan brothers left their mark on many structures including the Çiragan, Beylerbeyi and Dolmabahçe palaces.”
Raising awareness
Speaking on behalf of the Hrant Dink Foundation, Sibel Asna said the exhibition reminded Istanbul residents of forgotten Armenian architects and their structures, and had a mission to raise awareness about the protection of those structures that are creating the silhouette of the city.
Asna said a book prepared within the scope of the exhibition, city tours and conferences would also contribute to the issue. She said many renowned structures like Kuleli Military School, Harbiye Military Museum, the Ortaköy Mosque, Büyükada Port, Beyazit Tower and Kadiköy Süreyya Theater were built by Armenian architects.
The curator of the exhibition, Hasan Kuruyazici, said they attached importance to visual features of the exhibition during the preparation process. He said he carried out a 15-year study about the works of Armenian architects in Istanbul and the photography took one year.
The exhibition will run until Jan. 2.

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