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Location: Uskudar, Istanbul
Project type: Culture
Employer: İBB
Project year: 2021
Construction area: - m²
Land area: - m²
Status: National Competition, Participant

Project team: 
Kemal Bal, Nil Bıçak, Erol Kalmaz, Idil Bayar, Dilan Ozdemir



* In the text, all of the buildings belonging to Sinan, with a difference of opinion referring to him or designed by his team, are considered as Sinan architecture in the broad sense that they belong to the Sinan era. The spatial clustering in and around the temple is in focus.



In our text, he will argue that there are two contradictory concepts in Mimar Sinan's architecture; We will reduce these two concepts to architectural elements in two clusters and explain how this reduction has shaped the design of the Commemoration of Sinan space in Üsküdar: He will describe Sinan's value as the rhythm and harmony of the transitions between the main space and the peripheral spaces and the street, this space is the mechanics of creation. We will describe our design as an experiment.

Two concepts and architectural elements in two clusters:

1. The concept of necessity and the dome/domes system as its architectural counterpart

2. The concept of randomness and its architectural counterpart, walls and eaves


We will describe the concept of necessity as the independence of architecture from place. Sinan's temple architecture is a temple with a center away from the focus (Kaaba); It can be summarized as structures covered with different sized full and half dome patterns of space groups created by the possibilities of brick, stone and mortar and constructed with an architectural ruler system. Infinite configurations can be tried in this system, which Sinan tried many patterns; but all these patterns are predictable, and their juxtaposition is geometrically imperative. The widespread and admirable value of Sinan's temples comes from this architecture of necessity. The singular high place and the order of the domes as the equivalent of the divine scale of the act of worship above the daily scale of the human. This iconography settled in the medieval world as the indispensable counterpart of the space dedicated to the “divine” and reached its zenith in Sinan. In the sense of being written, the difference observed between the "universe universe" and "the universe above the moon" from the classical Greek age to the European new age shaped the mental world of the medieval people. In the "under-moon world" movements are linear and imperfect; In the superlunar world, however, the movement is circular and perfect. It is known that even Kepler, a contemporary of Sinan, who lived a century after Copernicus, observed that the motions of the planets were elliptical rather than linear, but hesitated to believe this. Along with the Byzantine tradition that Sinan inherited, the image underlying the construction of temples in the near geography is the image of the "universe above the moon": the world of the sphere and the circular. Bicentricity, the ellipse, is a defect and the opposite of "divine". For Sinan, it is neither the sun, nor the landscape, nor even the center of inclination. Of course, these bind him, but what matters is this perfect image of the universe that we are trying to paint the background of. The aspect of Sinan's architecture that we have taken under the concept of "necessity" is the act of creating a perfect space with a perfect configuration of spheres, which is located only in the direction of the qibla and whose mind is tempted by nothing but modular rulers and circles.

Apart from our attempt to interpret this world of mind, in the work that can be considered as Sinan's autobiography, the symbolic content of the poem appears to be more superficial interpretations; but this world of symbols keeps the focus of widespread public appreciation around the cult of Sinan.   


Apart from this value, which we discuss under the concept of "necessity", that Sinan's marked, conceptual and imaginary background is open to multiple "interpretations" and "excessive interpretations", the other aspect that we find really exciting for the architectural profession is the concept of "randomness". We will discuss below. We will use the concept of randomness for each Sinan temple to describe the unforeseen anomalies arising from its location. These irregularities are the “coincidences” that interfered with Sinan's pattern of obligations and perfections and overcame him. We will propose roof planes/eaves and perimeter walls as the distinctive architectural counterpart of our proposed idea, and present a series of examples of these counterparts. There are many inventions in Sinan mosques, to which “the place” whispers and Sinan responds with an architect:


In Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, eaves descend from the high walls that carry domes of “divine” scale to “human” scale. On the opposite shore, the eaves of the Kılıç Ali Pasha Mosque, in another "randomness", descend towards the courtyard and from there to the fountain wall. Transcendental scale is reduced to everyday scale with the system of a single portico with a dome cover or a double portico with a plane roof.  


The last congregation walls of the Aleppo Courthouse, Tekirdağ Rüstem Paşa and Fındıklı Molla Çelebi mosques are so long that they overflow an eye. Although these three structures, built in three dissimilar geographies, are constructed with a similar architectural ruler in the direction imposed by the qibla, the space order on the narthex walls differs. Sinan seems to have drawn the difference between the perspective in the plain of Aleppo and the perspective of the qibla direction and the Fındıklı coast, where the strait overlaps, on the “necessity” ruler with a different color pen. While both ends of the wall are full in Aleppo, one in Tekirdağ and both in Fındıklı open towards the strait.  


In Eminönü Rüstempaşa, the street level is left to trade, the mosque wall fits the street, the upper level gives a triangular bay window. In the Kadırga Sokullu Mehmet Pasha mosque, the complex, which is skillfully placed on the slope, bends with the street at the street turns and the corner wall is notched. In Selimiye, the pure geometrical madrasah order ends on the obverse in the southern cluster, on the facade facing the city, and sinks into the “ground”.


While the madrasah clusters of Üsküdar Şemsi Ahmet Paşa and Atik Valide mosques and the madrasa rooms of the Van Hüsrev Paşa Mosque, which is a provincial structure, are set up around a courtyard with a similar ruler, other ways are preferred in the corner room access solution of the rectangular plan scheme. It is possible to see this preference difference in the difference in the value of buying a building overlooking the Bosphorus and a building in the countryside. In a silhouette that can be seen from the Bosphorus, the rhythm of the madrasa chamber and thus the dome was not disturbed, and the end rooms were accessed from the corners of the rooms. On the contrary, in the countryside where the rhythm in the silhouette is relatively unimportant, the corner room was extended by half a module and solved with a normal entrance.


For each building, many more examples can be given, and we will try to show the projections of "randomness" in the design of the memorial space, in the sense that only its location demands it.  




Lines of the Ground

Interpreting the "dome" image identified with Sinan, the commemoration was brought to the center of the space and the clustering of open, semi-open and closed spaces around it was placed by considering the neighborhood, elevation relations and daily street circulation in the chosen place. Contrary to the crowded streets and streets of Üsküdar near the beach, this memorial venue, which includes an event volume and a courtyard where it was opened, is the intersection of Rumi Mehmet Pasha and Darende Street, which ends with the hipped roof Hüsrev Ağa Mosque and descends to Üsküdar square level with a staircase. The triangular space where the dead end opens was preferred. After taking the two circulation axes in the direction of Şemsi Ahmet Paşa and Mihrimah Sultan Mosques from the dead end, the commemoration place took its place in the section by adding 1.2 m to the 2 m natural elevation facility in order not to obstruct the perspective of the restored Hüsrev Ağa Mosque towards the Bosphorus. From the two directions we mentioned, the Sinan place was entered by a staircase from one side and a ramp from the other. A similar cross-sectional relation "from dome to eave", a catalog of which was sketched in Sinan's studies, was imagined for building entrances. A hierarchy of open-semi-open and closed spaces was established from under the eaves descending towards the eye level whenever possible, from the dome drum to a calm inner garden that lets the daylight in, and from there to the event hall. When approaching the memorial site from Şemsi Ahmet Pasha, the eaves overflowing from a half-buried, modest façade give a familiar face, and when you pass under it and reach the courtyard, an inverted dome descends from a circular dome drum. The memorial place receives sunlight from the roof opening designed along all the perimeter walls, between this dome and the wider pulley, and offers a quiet working-resting opportunity around the landscaping area just below the dome/or the pool. A closable volume, which will serve as an air-conditioned event beyond, overlooks this courtyard. The memorial works as a living public space at all times of the year.


Dome Interpretation

Throughout our work, we focused and prioritized the aspects of Sinan's buildings related to the daily scale of human beings rather than the dome. However, the architectural element identified with Sinan in the image world of the society is undoubtedly the dome, and therefore, this commemoration place could have made the dome say its word about Sinan. At the beginning of the design, the subject was to make a structural and material interpretation of the dome at the imaginary level and to establish a space where the construction and architectural value of the dome could be rethought with this interpretation. In the construction tradition, instead of the dome that naturally works with pressure, a reinforced concrete inverted dome that tries to pull with a post-tension system was imagined. This interpretation of the dome, on the contrary, opens up the opportunity to appreciate the technical value of Sinan's architecture. In a way, he quietly whispers the criticism of the temple architecture, which was produced by copying without being aware of the architectural mechanics behind Sinan's architecture.  


All this atmosphere opens up another public space to the city among other Sinan structures, with its location, cross-sectional seating, oversized and unobtrusive tranquility in Üsküdar, where many registered buildings are silhouetted.  


It is absurd to turn the eaves upside down, while the dome is open to endless interpretation. Because the cause of the first is genuine, the other is transcendental.

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