The origin of our work, “Architecture in Fictional Literature: Essays on Selected Works,” dates back to our years at the Faculty of Architecture of Istanbul Technical University, where we studied with Hikmet Temel Akarsu, a writer who studied architecture and devoted himself to literature. Our friendship started in 1977 and throughout the years saw a great many discussions engaged, communications made, and passions affirmed about architecture and literature. Even though we both studied architecture, we were troubled by the uniformisation, standardisation, and industrialisation of architectural practices both in our country and globally, which slowly turned the world into an unpleasant, pale, and unexciting place. As moderate architects, we tried to go in different ways rather than be a part of this colourless adventure. While I headed towards the academic world, my co-editor, Hikmet Temel Akarsu, was on his way into the world of great emotions in literature. However, what we both had in mind was how we could put an end to this dismal trend in architecture and what could be done to add the missing spiritual element.
At some point, our views coincided. In order to generate a new climate in architecture and to add excitement and spirit to the architectural state of increasingly similar cities, we realised that it was necessary to improve the emotional education of architects. One of the primary methods was to introduce them to the architectural universe in the literary works of great writers.
This was the starting point of the project. And when I was appointed dean of the faculty of architecture, where I was a professor, I realised that I had the opportunity to accomplish this ambition. With Akarsu, we selected one hundred great works of world literature that emphasise architecture and assigned articles of analysis to academics, writers, architects, and intellectuals who could best analyse them. Concurrently, we started working with painters to revive the architectural universe of great literary figures with illustrations.
When the book came out, it attracted great attention and was sold out in a short time. More importantly, it brought about a new wave of discussion around the field of architecture in Turkey while also triggering different approaches in the intellectual sphere.
The aim was to bring together and evaluate essays penned by authors, architects, and artists of relevant expertise, which embodied their analyses and commentaries on literary works written on architecture, urban planning, and design and that had influence over our civilisation.
In a professional field like architecture with such a strong artistic aspect, it is essential for architect candidates to receive qualitative aesthetic and cultural training. The starting point for this study was the idea that a structure or an environment created by an architect who has gone through profound, artistic-cultural training and internalised the global culture would be more liveable and aesthetic. In this regard, it is crucial that great literary works are known well in order to establish, within the community and among architects, a new aesthetic perception. While architectural education and the profession itself aspire for a qualitative architectural medium, awareness should be raised within, first, the field. and then the community.
Furthermore, as a result of technological advancements, the approach to the education of architecture, urban planning, and interior design has gradually changed. Technical design, project production, and engineering computations are substantially carried out on computers and are usually typical. Thus, going beyond standardised project production methods, aesthetic theories, creative ideas, broader knowledge of the world, the ability to make the right decisions, and command of global cultural repertory have come to be the core of architectural creation. The means of realising these achievements that provide a supplementary force to architectural creation is evident. Today, the reading and internalisation of literary, artistic, and philosophical works regarding the basic themes of architecture have become essential in the education of this field and in forming qualified architectural circles for a conscious and intelligent creation process.
In this book, there is an examination of how architecture is handled from 28 major literary works selected from the masterpieces of world literature. They are examined by expert academicians and authors in an article format. An illustration describing each work has been added.
Today, real literature is widely being disregarded. A more superficial and mostly visual art world has come into prominence. This impedes the development of a profound spiritual perception and qualitative cultural accumulation. This can only be counteracted with real literature. The method put forward in this project aims to rectify this downturn among architects and designers. In turn, this indirect method will transform architectural thought and application.
With this anthology, the aim is to initiate this transformation. In order to restore, enrich, and render the cities of the future more liveable, these masterpieces have to be carefully read, scrutinised, and internalised. This is vital, not only for students but also for architects, urban planners, artists, and anyone with a consciousness for urban living.
With today’s changing world, architectural education requires more interdisciplinary collaboration. Technological advancements, globalisation/localisation, sustainability, and ecological issues’ influence are in conjunction with more progressive attitudes, design, art, technology, and even architecture. Keeping pace with developments in this vein, architectural education can renew and transform itself while producing new aesthetic perceptions and insights into existence. Through a comprehensive understanding of the studied relationship between literature and architecture, the current trivialisation in aesthetics and culture can be challenged and new approaches rendered possible.
When we received the proposition from Bentham, we questioned if we would produce a version of the book that would be relevant to the world outside Turkey. We embraced this idea with enthusiasm but reduced the number of works to 28, as we had to go with writers who were well-known in the world of literature. The articles were completed with careful and comprehensive analyses and proofread meticulously. Those who read “Architecture in Fictional Literature: Essays on Selected Works” will find in-depth sentiments and observations that great writers contributed to architecture, along with inspiration to review their perspectives on this art form.
We thank Bentham Publishing for taking the initiative to realise this project that aims to spark fresh discourse in architecture through literature, the 28 authors who contributed, translator Ertuğrul Pek and critic Emre Karacaoğlu, who proofread the work, and Mrs. Joan Eröncel, who oversaw the edits.
Kocaeli University, Faculty of Architecture and Design,
Anıtpark Campus 41300 Izmit/Kocaeli
Hikmet Temel Akarsu
Emin Ali Paşa Street,
Beydağı Apartment, No. 91 B Blok D:2 Bostancı,