Ankara (1929-35)/ Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey, and the modern house
Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey, and the modern house was written by Esra Akcan in 2012. She was educated as an architect in Turkey and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University. This book consists of five chapters, namely, “Modernism from Above”, “Melancholy in Translation”, “Siedlung in Subaltern Exile”, “Convictions about untranslatability”, and “Toward a Cosmopolitan Architecture”.
In this book, she explores the concept of translation to explain interactions between places. The definition of ‘translation’ in this book is a cultural flow from one place to another, the process of transformation during the act of transportation. By focusing on the history of German-Turkish exchanges in residential architecture, and analyzing and tracing back the origins of some major housing models or city planning ideals, such as Garden City, and some studies on the national-houses typologies, she advocates a commitment to a new culture of translatability from below instead of above.
This book served as an important angle and anchor point to the German-Turkish translations in the research of the early Ankara. Being a Turkish herself, the author provided an comparatively insider view towards the implementation of Hermann Jansen’s plan from the perspective as a local. Also, the book categorizes sections and paragraphs by city and places, such that when tracing the origin and the mutation of the Garden City concept from the British to German, it is an interesting perspective to compare how people from different countries ‘translate’ one concept and perceived in their own way. Apart from a comprehensive analysis on the Master Plan for Ankara by Jansen, she also compared the plan with previous projects by Jansen implemented in other context, or even other parts in Turkey. The Bahçelievler Housing Cooperative project by Jansen in 1935-36 was particularly useful for understanding the mistranslation during the process in a micro-scale.