Architecture and City in Islam
The book submits the idea that İslamic cities have given up their cultural values for the sake of westernization, and offers solutions on how to correct the situation. T.Cansever is the only person ever to have won the Aga Khan award twice. Drawing on knowledge of both contemporary and conventional masters, Cansever explores the possibilities of basing the layout of a city on Islamic ideas. More
Turgut Cansever, who approached some of the problems of modern architecture with designs focusing on environmental and cultural values, has received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture three times. He has also gained awards from various national and international contests.
Known for his innovative ideas about Islamic architecture and city planning, Cansever is a thinker who is followed, not only by city planners and architects, but also by members of the general public. Drawing upon his knowledge of both contemporary and conventional masters, Cansever discusses basic aspects of Islamic architecture, including thinking of ways to protect Islamic architectural heritage, considering the distinctive features of the Islamic city, and imagining how future Islamic architecture and cityscapes might be structured on philosophical and spiritual lines.
According to Cansever, “putting everything in the right order” is the first step towards designing a future Islamic architecture. This is made possible, not only by putting everything into the correct material order, but also taking bio-social and religious facts and laws into consideration.
Islamic architecture uses the material as it is, without denying its qualities or excessively stressing its significance. A similar approach can also be seen in the use of technology. Islamic architecture does not aim for extraordinary technological success, for example by providing a building with unusual lighting. On the contrary, technology in Islam is used to meet real needs, based on the importance of hierarchy. The goal in using different materials together, such as wood and stone, or metal and tile, is to stress the individual beauty of each, and to show how such beauties respect one another, rather than form basic and primitive adversarial statements.
Cansever does not mean to ignore change while getting in touch with the past. “When you turn changing life into a fixed form, there is conflict and disconnectedness between you and life. So, either change itself is ignored, or people, who do not change, are sentenced to unproductiveness and misery. That’s why local administrators and urban planners should structure new plans by repeating what the Ottomans did: stressing a minimum of interference, a minimum of planning and the maximum participation, combining a nature-humanity balance with an attitude towards city planning and architectural fashion that respects privacy.”
In essence, cultural pollution is a mistake similar to considering technology as the only creative power. Instead of seeing the city, land, and world as places where Allah’s greatness is revealed, these issues are seen through bureaucrats’ and technocrats’ eyes, and so bureaucratic rules are attributed with fundamental powers. Seeing the land, world, and city merely as sources of income is becoming ever-more popular under the influence of these institutions, with the consequence that people are almost forced to internalize a multidimensional chain of filth/distortion/disease through the media that they consume.
Cansever thinks it is his duty to avoid misunderstandings, and to accurately state the issues related to social, psychological, and spiritual well-being in order to put architecture within the frame defined by the Hadith: “the basic responsibility of a person is to embellish the world.”