Introduction: A set of surprises
Few years ago, as I was browsing in a bookstore in Ankara, I noticed a book. It was a monograph about the work of two architects I had not known before. I was surprised and pleased at the same time. Yes, there was an increase in the number of books on architecture, yet it was below the desired numbers. It was quite rare to find a monograph on the work of architects who have not followed every whim and fancy of the architectural profession, as in their case. Curious as I was, I purchased the book with the belief of supporting such promising progress in the field.
Second surprise came when I had started to look through the pages of the book. These young architects had assembled examples of their architectural work with a theoretical background in this first book. Considering the lack of concern for theory among practicing architects or lack of practice among theoreticians or academia in Turkey, this was a positive development. Soygeniş had seen architectural practice and theory as two inseparable poles, and the first book reflects that.
More and more surprises came in time. I came to know one of the authors of the book, Murat Soygeniş, at the first Yıldız architectural meeting. He was busy with the organization for a successful meeting with great modesty. The personality he displayed was neither a rebuffing practicing architect nor an inaccessible academician. He was, calmly, open to criticism in pursuit of producing better meetings in coming years.
After a while, at a book fair in the university I work at in Cyprus, I came across a book titled ‘Yapı 2 / Building Construction 2’ amongst many other books. Thinking that it was an additional print for Sedat Hakkı Eldem’s book which had similar title, I found out that the book was prepared by Murat Soygeniş. Upon publisher’s initiation on preparing a new volume to fill the shortcomings of Sedat Hakkı Eldem’s – master Turkish architect – book, ‘Yapı / Building Construction’, he had prepared it within the same format and as a sequel to ‘Yapı’.
Last surprise was the request from the publisher for writing an introduction to this book. I was both surprised and pleased with it. I know that Soygeniş do not need this, yet I feel obliged to support productive colleagues as them. I accepted the request without really knowing whether I could do it or not.
Soygeniş’ second book is similar, in a sense, to the first one, as it catalogs their architectural work for a certain period. Yet, in this second volume, the emphasis is on their practice – on projects and built work – rather than on theoretical issues. Their ideas and theories on architecture in text format is limited in this volume compared to the first one. They might have thought that their architectural practice reveals the thinking behind their work and need not be emphasized any further or to be dealt in another context. Text is used only to explain the overall concept of projects illustrated in this book.
As in the first book, it is obvious that their productive pace of delineating projects and turning them into tangible buildings is still continuing. Diversity and aura of their projects presented in this book will draw attention of both beginners and masters in the field. This holds true for the presentation of featured work as well. Freehand concept sketches coupled with advanced computer renderings all contribute to this interesting volume, creating fluency far from monotony.
Soygeniş’ projects span from furniture design to urban scale design proposals. Formal language is minimalist and direct which ends with clear and simple results. Architectural language is contemporary, yet not time specific. Meticulous analytical studies and innovative detailing assist to accomplish simplistic architectural language they achieved.
I am well aware that most people question the existence of ‘Contemporary Turkish Architecture’. I always try to explain that questioning it is a wrongdoing. Every generation of architects, with bright edifices or projects will form a milestone on the path that architectural profession follows. Soygeniş’ architectural work corroborate this thinking and their book is an evidence. It is not easy to overlook them when ‘New Generation of Turkish Architects’ are concerned. Simply, I can say, we can expect more brilliant work from them, and they will suffice.
Author: Üstün Alsaç was born in Ankara, studied architecture at Hannover Technical University and İstanbul Technical University. His doctoral work was on Contemporary Turkish Architecture, accepted at İTÜ in 1976. Professor Alsaç, worked as researcher at miscellaneous institutions including TAÇ Foundation, following his years at Karadeniz Technical University where he started his academic career. He joined the faculty of School of Architecture at Lefke University in Cyprus in 1993 upon an invitation. Since 1996, he works at Eastern Mediterranean University in Gazimagusa. Üstün Alsaç, teaches Architectural Theory and History and directs design studios, is the author of many books and articles written throughout his career.
Book: Yüksel, E. (Ed.), Sema – Murat Soygeniş Yapılar + Projeler / Buildings + Projects 2, Birsen Yayınevi, İstanbul, 2003.