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A treasure of design, art and architecture in one bookstore

ISTANBUL - At the center of the most crowded city in Turkey, Istanbul, where the architecture is of great importance there sits the Building Information Center. The company organizes sector-based fairs and publishes architecture and design books

by Aslı Sağlam
A treasure lies in the center of Istanbul for those interested in architecture, design, ecology and art. Although it is not widely known outside the academic world, the Building Information Center, or YEM, has been around since 1968.

The company plays a crucial role building bridges between the producers and users of building materials, through fairs, publications and events. Yet the center is not only an information center or a unique media group, which organizes sector-based fairs, publishes technical journals and periodicals, provides professional information, and organizes technical trips, meetings and symposiums, it is also a rich bookstore as well.

YEM gathers all those hallmarks under one roof in its center building in Istanbul’s Fulya district. Since 1978 the company has organized the International Turkeybuild Istanbul Fair. Known as Turkey’s first industry fair, it has had an increasing number of participants and visitors each year. Also organized in Ankara and İzmir, the fair brings together everything related to infrastructure and equipment in architecture. The profits from the fairs help develop other departments in YEM.

The company is also a publisher of books, magazines and catalogues, which are sold in many bookstores, including its own bookstore. YEM’s regularly published Yapı Magazine has been published for 35 years, and it is followed by many people who are interested in architecture.

The bookstore sells both YEM publications and foreign publications. The company has published 150 books including encyclopedias and dictionaries.

No need to bring books from abroad

The bookstore was designed with a modern touch and gives the feeling of possession of all the interesting-looking books on the shelves.

Doğan Hasol, an architect and chairman of YEM, has written an architecture dictionary, which is also on the store’s shelves. There are books on architecture, urban development, cultural heritage, photography, art, fashion and industrial design.

Among YEM publishings, one can find books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, magazines and catalogues. Chosen by the manager of the YEM bookstore, Arzu Karacanlar, each of them have an important place in the academic world.

According to Karacanlar, the architectural publications in Turkey are limited. "We publish three-fourths of the architecture-related books. The bookstore and the publication department have been growing rapidly in the last 10 years. The bookstore brings books from Europe and the United States, said Karacanlar. "People don’t need to carry heavy books that they went and bought from abroad. We try to bring the ones that will interest our readers. And the prices don’t change."

The bookstore started selling engineering and architecture books and expanded its topics by adding publishing and design-related books. YEM’s newly published books on Istanbul’s historic and Ottoman architecture, published in Turkish and English will soon take their places in other country’s bookstores.

Turkey is a rapidly growing and developing country, that’s why the interest towards architecture, ecological issues and design rises each day, said Karacanlar. "This was a transformation that European countries went through 50 years ago. As a company, we are aiming to create development in the sector. Imagine, those who are studying architecture or engineering at the universities will be building the houses that we will live in. They learn by reading these books. But if the resources are limited, the vision might be parochial."

Karacanlar said that there was no general binding legal arrangement in architecture in Turkey, and that YEM is trying to create awareness on the importance of the arrangements via all the works they do.

Only two years ago, no one was interested in the ecological design and architecture stand but now it is the most popular shelf, Karacanlar said.

The company, which is a member of the International Union of Building Centers, or UICB, organizes exhibitions. There is also a documentation center that is similar to a library. It covers industry information and has a database with all the annual Turkish building sector reports written on architecture and design. YEM also has a Museum of Architecture, which is online and available in English as well. There is no architecture museum in Turkey, said Karacanlar. "If we are supported by any architectural establishment we want to open a real one."

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