ARCHITECTURAL MODEL MAKING IN TURKEY
A Tool for Thinking and Visualization
Studio-X Istanbul, November 17, 2017 – January 19, 2018


Model making has always been an inseparable aspect of architectural production, since it is a tool for testing, representing, and, at times, documenting the architectural idea.


Figure 1. Karatepe Open Air Museum; Kadirli, Adana, 1957-61. Architect: Turgut Cansever, Model: Mehmet Erkök, 2007. Photo: Şahin Uğur Eren.

Architectural models vary from the simplest working models, made of materials and methods available in the office, to presentation models produced by professional model makers using sophisticated materials and methods. Most of the working models last until the completion of projects in offices, gather dust, get deformed and disappear in the end. Professional presentation models, in contrast, do not reside in architecture offices, they travel through the courses set according to their purpose; but they get lost in the end, too.


Figure 2. Facade of Studio-X Istanbul, decorated with model photographs for the exhibition. Photo: Şahin Uğur Eren.

What often remains are the photographs of the models. Thus, the three-dimensional architectural expression becomes two-dimensional again. Most of the model photographs we can find in the archives and the pages of architectural publications do not have any informational records. Mostly, it cannot be identified who the producer of the model was, what the material, technique, and scale were, and by whom the photograph of the model was taken.


Figure 3. Exhibition overview: Model platform, workstations and showcases. Photo: Avşar Gürpınar.

The exhibition “Architectural Model Making in Turkey” is a phase of a long-term work in progress, which focuses on the well-known actors to the architecture circles, and their production, and which aims at making their collaboration more visible. The compilation of models in this exhibition represents the modern architectural production in Turkey in the 20th century, and includes the works of five model makers of five generations: The materials from the archives of Yusuf Z. Ergüleç, Selahattin Yazıcı, Mehmet Şener [Atölye 77], Varjan Yurtgülü [Min Tasarım] and Murat Küçük [Atölye K] are accompanied by the analysis of contents about architectural models in the journals Mimar / Arkitekt from 1931 to 1980.


Figure 4. View from the exhibition. Photo: Mete Godollar.

The exhibition looks into the technicalities and meanings of model making, focusing on materials, techniques, methods, expressions, representations, milieus and networks of relations. It also pioneers the archival process recording the related information for the first time.


Figure 5. The first ledger of the model maker Selahattin Yazıcı on display. Photo: Pınar Gediközer.

The archives of Yusuf Z. Ergüleç –with the support of Studio-X Istanbul– and Selahattin Yazıcı –with the support of METU Faculty of Architecture– are currently being digitised and catalogued. This effort was led under the mentorship of SALT Research Architecture and Design Archive which will host and provide online access to these archives once the cataloguing process is complete.


Figure 6. The model platform. Photo: Mete Godollar.

The Furniture
The exhibition furniture is designed and manufactured by Avşar Gürpınar [AgCC] and Mete Godollar, powered by Istanbul Bilgi University, Faculty of Architecture. All furniture is made of ash plywood, using digital manufacture technologies. However, even with the most advanced technology, there is a need for post-production modification and fine-tuning. Thus, the design and manufacture process resembles the one of a model maker to a certain extent. Surfaces are left unfinished and additional lighting equipment are embedded when necessary. In the end-effect, furniture indicates that it is distinctively designed for this exhibition but still merge into the background with its unfinished, unvarnished, undecorated character, for the exhibited material bears the utmost importance.


Figure 7. The model platform with models of Karatepe Open Air Museum and Atatürk Cultural Center in the foreground. Photo: Avşar Gürpınar.

Model Platform
The exhibition is constructed on three principal axes/layers, of which the model platform constitutes the first. 12 tables with partial frames are assembled to form a 2-meter-wide and 10-meter-long model platform. The surfaces are painted with matte blackboard paint to generate a non-existent/infinite quality. It was a critical decision whether to put the models on separate pedestals with varying heights or to base their levels on one platform. The decision was the latter, to create a more physically egalitarian configuration and powerful visual impact.


Figure 8. View of main concert hall, Model of Atatürk Culture Center (Atölye K), Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: Avşar Gürpınar.

Workstations
Five workstations dedicated to each model maker/workshop are positioned facing the model platform. These desks are equipped with fluorescent lighting and have their electrical circuitry –thus can be plugged in anywhere. Visitors could sit and watch the documentaries of model makers, browse through the exhibition booklets or contemplate the models from a distance.


Figure 9. Workstations with designated stools and tablet boxes, facing the model platform. Photo: Şahin Uğur Eren.

Showcases
Complementing the workstations, five separate self-illuminating showcases exhibit objects and documents collected from the model makers’ workshops and private collections. They are shown the well-deserved respect and protection by being neatly knolled in glass covered boxes.
The visitor can move through and about these three different layers, simultaneously following the model photography research outputs illustrated on the walls of the space. “Architectural Model Making in Turkey” exhibition could be argued, is layered both on the physical and the informational levels. This stratification is facilitated by the furniture on the former level and by the information/exhibition structure on the other.


Figure 10. Objects and documents from the modelmakers' archives. Photo: Avşar Gürpınar.

Authors: Pelin Derviş, Avşar Gürpınar

This exhibition, supported by Istanbul Design Biennial, is a continuation of the project “Design Chronology Turkey | Draft” developed by Studio-X and Pelin Derviş in the context of the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial.
Curator: Pelin Derviş
Research team: Ufuk Demirgüç, Pelin Derviş, İlayda Güler;
Saliha Aslan, Elif Bilge; T. Elvan Altan, Aydan Balamir, Güven Arif Sargın and Pelin Yoncacı Arslan / with the support of METU Faculty of Architecture
“Model Makers” video (shooting and editing): Tanju Eren
“Architect and Architectural Model” screening: Pelin Derviş – Metehan Özcan
Exhibition furniture design: Avşar Gürpınar, Mete Godollar / with the support of İstanbul Bilgi University
Graphic design: Ufuk Demirgüç
Lighting consultant: Ali Berkman (On|Off)

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