Istanbul( 1923-1933)/ From cultural and social reform to architectural reform

Istanbul( 1923-1933)/ From cultural and social reform to architectural reform
The Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II (reign 1876-1909) wearing a fez © 2007 Ponentin

In 1925, after the Republic of Turkey is established, Ataturk, the first president of Turkey undergo a series of reform. There is one cultural reform called the ‘Hat Act’. At that time fez was acting as symbol of conservatism. Fez was introduced as modern headwear a century earlier by Mahmud II. Ataturk, implemented a reform in headwear, in which he required all members of the Turkish National Assembly and public servants to wear Western-style hats in public space. Because he believed Western-style hat was used by the whole civilized world. In order to create contemporary civilization for Turkey, Ataturk believed the Turkish nation have to show no divergence from the civilized social life.

 

The Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II (reign 1876-1909) wearing a fez  © 2007 Ponentin
The Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II (reign 1876-1909) wearing a fez © 2007 Ponentin

The same happen for the social reform, in which they declare the Turkish was the origin of many language in the world. In order to support this claim they had to establish the Ancient Greek and Latin to support that many civilizations were found by the Turks. The following act was the purification of Turkish language by the removal of many Arabic and Persian words. Turkish written language was reformed.

 

In view of the two reforms above, it is interesting to discover a similarity. For the Hat Act, the Turkish government did not attempt to modernize the fez, but instead they replaced it with a western-style hat. The same happened to language reform in which they did not try to revise the old Arabic script but had abandoned it for the Latin alphabet. The modern architect at that time also observed this phenomenon and they applied the same approach in architectural reform. The modern Turkish architect discarded the old stylish architectural form and use a new logical method towards modernization. The architectural reform therefore include the construction of new government buildings and public centers in order to keep with the reformist of the Republic.

 

Reference:

GUL, M.( 2009) The Emergence of Modern Istanbul : Transformation and Modernization of a City. London: Tauris Acadmeic Studies.

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