The Nationality Room of Turkiye, University of Pittsburgh,
In collaboration with Yildirim Yavuz, Affan Yatman and Nesrin Yatman, Ankara Turkiye, 2002

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The mission of the Turkish Nationality Room (TNR) is to represent the richness of the Turkish culture through the architectural reproduction of the interior setting of a historically significant Turkish room, at the University of Pittsburgh. Having the TNR will help the Turkish communities, friends of Turkey, and proponents of the cultural diversity to represent the richness of the Turkish culture in the United States in a unique permanent setting.

  Figure 1: Enderun Library floor plan and roof plan

Over the years, the Nationality Rooms of the Cathedral of Learning (NR-COL) have become a respected institution of world cultures. The addition of the Turkish Nationality Room will no doubt be a significant complement to the set of 26 nationalities already present. For the Turkish Room, such an installation will be one of its kind, in North America, perhaps in the entire world.

The design concept shall be based on the "hayat" or "sofa" concept of the traditional Turkish house and its many derivatives found in the historical rooms of mansions and palaces remaining from the Ottoman era. This architectural type transcends location, time period, ethnic distinction and other potentially fractious factors. It has the promise of uniting Turks around the purpose of creating a presence through interior art and architecture.

  Figure 2: An illustrative adaptation of the Ederun plan to the TNR.

There are three possible implementation strategies: an authentic transplantation, a recreated replica, or an abstract reinterpretation, in the order of increasing architectural difficulty and decreasing cost. We expect the design, construction and furbishing of the TNR to be of the highest quality possible in the 21st Century in delivering the technically sophisticated classroom functionality as well as representing the cultural and artistic values of Turkey.

It is for the pre-1787 requirement that we have been advised to focus on important historical examples including those in the Topkapi Palace. A design based on the Ottoman court, rather than a more modest Anatolian model, would compare favorably against the elaborate examples found among the existing Nationality Rooms, particularly the Syrian Room.

According to Dr. Esemenli, curator of Topkapi Palace, the Enderun Library built by Sultan Ahmet the IIIrd probably provides one of the more mature examples of classical Turkish educational complexes suited for the purposes of the TNR (Figure 1). The Enderun Library features the domed central hall with flanking eyvans of the classical medrese type, embellished with the early Ottoman tile work and without the intrusion of the Baroque decorations so common in later Ottoman architecture. Furthermore, the bay window arrangement of the space allocated for this project in the Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, its small dimensions not withstanding, seems to be well suited for the irregular outline of the Enderun Library.

The conceptual design developed by me illustrates the adaptation of the Enderun Library to the space available for the TNR (Figures 2 and 3). This illustration is not offered as a final solution to this design task. It is offered, however, as the initial concept to guide the preliminary design and assist in the fundraising effort.

  Figure 3: Perspective view of the illustrative adaptation of the Enderun plan to the TNR

This solution illustrates several key design requirements:
1. Inner partition envelope designed to create the Enderun Library design of the 18th Century Ottoman existance, within the outer room enclosure which belongs to Pittsburgh in the 21st Century.
2. Maximize the number of seats (38) and those that have a view of the lectern-screen (30).
3. Maximize daylit walls through the intermediary buffer space between the double wall design.
4. An anteroom for late arrivals and early departures with the outdoor Ottoman court motif.
5. Conserve the present screen and projection locations.

The critical problems, among others, yet to be resolved by the final design, include:
1. Refining the location of the projection screen, chalkboard, and lectern to maximize the number of seats with good sightlines.
2. Provision of proper writing surfaces that are not removable and with minimum moving parts.
3. Effective illumination of the room with natural and artificial lighting.
4. Appropriate views through the windows (as an alternative to just the wall cavity).
5. Creation of a contemporary, "authentic" Turkish educational space without appearing Disney-esque.