GeriGündem Young architects shape landscape, city & space
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Young architects shape landscape, city & space

ISTANBUL - The Archiprix Turkey 2008 competition, where students strive to unify the three guiding principles of architecture: Durability, utility and beauty, is organized for the 13th time this year. Ali Dur, an Istanbul Technical University student, is the winner with a project called Urban Station.

Innovation, imagination and youth go hand in hand. The Archiprix Turkey 2008 competition, held last Thursday, at the Building Information Center, or YEM, in Fulya, was no exception.

Archiprix is a student architectural design competition where students strive to unify the three guiding principles of architecture as outlined by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio: Firmitas, utilitas and venustas, or durability, utility and beauty. Seventy-nine graduate projects from 17 schools in Turkey and northern Cyprus competed in the event, which is in its 13th year.

This year’s first place prizewinner was a 2008 graduate of Istanbul Technical University, Ali Dur, with a project called Urban Station. His project offers a revamping of the Kadikoy Sali Pazari, a two-day a week bazaar, which is a parking lot for the remaining five days. "There is no continuity to the place. My project is a proposal to bring continuity to that particular space, " Dur told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Overarching philosophy beneath meticulous drawings
There is philosophy in architecture that seems lost to the untrained eye, as the viewer glosses over the schematics, but Dur assures that there is an overarching philosophy beneath his meticulous drawings.

"All of the efforts here are the culmination of our philosophies, our perspectives. All of this, in my opinion, represents a way of looking at a landscape, the city, the space," said Dur, referring to his co-competitors work.

The idea behind Archiprix is simple; give young architects a chance to compete, motivate them for future success and stoke the fires of their imagination. The idea, while seemingly too idealistic to be viable, is validated by the presence of one panel member.

Eylem Erdinç was one of the five panel members in this year’s competition as a representative of one of Istanbul’s prestigious architectural firms, Mimarlar Tasarım. Erdinç was also the Archiprix Turkey 1999 first prizewinner. "I found motivation and self confidence in my work after I won first place. And it also came with a sense of responsibility to make sure I lived up to the award," said Erdinç.

Speaking to her at the elegant awards ceremony, there is the feeling that she is still competing. "I felt a real sense of relief when I realized that the project I submitted nine years ago would have held up to the standards we set for judging projects for Archiprix this time around," said Erdinç.

Another panel member was Mete Arat, a household name in architecture circles, who has recently received media attention as the architect behind the designs for Galatasaray’s new stadium in Esentepe. Arat confides that he is from a different generation than the young architects competing here tonight but that where he has the wisdom of years; the younger generation has something to offer too - fresh eyes.

"Young architects, architectural students, can examine the times better than we can," said Arat. Archiprix is useful because "it does not hinder the creative instincts, there are no constraints on their imagination so we really get to see how the younger generation is perceiving the world," said Arat. He also had praise for the young architect who won the competition.

"This boy’s work was inspiring. It was new and so imaginative. It would be hard to implement but the extent of his imagination and innovation was courageous," he said.

Tracking academic progress
Archiprix is not only a way to evaluate student work and see what the younger generation is seeing, it is also a way to track academic progress in Turkey’s architecture schools. "Looking at the projects over the last 13 years we can see how far architecture education has come in Turkey," said Doğan Hasol, the Board President of YEM and one of the founders of Archiprix Turkey. That is not all though, according to Hasol, who said he believed the competition fosters the craft of architecture as much as the art form.

"This is the place where you can see what came out of academia in 2008. This is it," said Hasol, holding out the Archiprix exhibit handbook. Flipping through the booklet, Winston Churchill’s words come to mind: "We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us."

If that is the case, the form of our future was on display last Thursday.

The projects will be on display in select cities throughout the country for the next month.

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