Having accepted its first cohort of students in Fall 2013, Architecture is a small but steadily expanding department. While we aspire to match the academic standards of the best architectural schools across the globe and incorporate cutting-edge thinking in architectural pedagogy and practice, we also seek to install in our students, a strong sense of social engagement, environmental responsibility and professional ethics.
***With a foundational belief in design as a “Critical Practice” that can generate “public good” in the world, we take issue with the increasing instrumentality and commodification of architectural knowledge, education and production. We envision our graduates to be fully aware of the social, economic, political and cultural dynamics that shape the production of the built environment and to engage with them critically and innovatively in multiple scales from single buildings and construction details to large urban interventions. We pledge to educate the next generation of competent, creative and critical design professionals who can challenge the received conventions and fashionable trends of their discipline and are as interested in defining problems as they are in solving them.
***We conceptualize Architecture not just as a skill-based Profession but as a broader Humanistic Discipline. Accordingly, our curriculum is structured around a synergetic integration of theoretical and technical courses of the discipline with the insights of humanities, social sciences and cultural studies, all of them feeding into the interdisciplinary environment of the design studio enhanced by digital technologies (including our brand new Fab Lab). We seek to cultivate an academic culture that invites critical inquiry, creative explorations, active participation, debate and discussion, teamwork, interactive learning and community service.
***We embrace the idea of Architecture as encompassing a Diversity of Spatial Practices and Scales of Intervention that are not limited to the design of new buildings and flashy projects. Today, small-scale interventions, in-fills within the existing fabric, infrastructure, additions and extensions, retrofitting, re-purposing and adaptive reuse of existing building stock are increasingly more prominent as innovative and sustainable modes of reshaping post-industrial cities everywhere. With a faculty committed to these ideas and an existing Graduate Program in Cultural Heritage Conservation, our Department is well positioned to explore such possibilities and re-conceptualize the idea of design within a broader spectrum to include research, documentation, projective analysis and critical conservation.
***We uphold the inseparability of Architecture and Urbanism. With a campus located on the Golden Horn in the historic heart of Istanbul, and at a time when an aggressive neo-liberal urban development continues to transform the city in unprecedented ways, we seek to make the city our laboratory, our research project and our primary site of design interventions to explore new ideas and critical possibilities that are suppressed by the existing economic and political dynamics. Our Istanbul Studies Center is an invaluable resource, currently in the process of re-structuring itself as the leading research, documentation and mapping center for an international and interdisciplinary network of urban studies focused on Istanbul.
***We pledge a strong commitment to research and scholarship as markers of excellence beyond the undergraduate professional degree programs. Supporting faculty research, attracting strong graduate students and joining scholarly networks both in Turkey and abroad are among the primary objectives of the Department in the long run. Plans are underway to open an interdisciplinary PhD Program as well as a Master Program in Architectural, Urban and Cultural Studies.
***We assert that both in its history and in contemporary practice, the discipline of Architecture has accumulated knowledge distilled from cross-cultural histories, networks and exchanges that transcend national borders. Global connections and trans-national experiences are central to our pedagogy. With a strong belief in the necessity of opening up to this world at large, we have an ambitious agenda to establish international connections, exchange programs, guest lecture series, field trips and summer workshops. In support of such initiatives, and of our objective to graduate internationally employable architects and internationally competent researchers, we also pledge a non-negotiable commitment to instruction in English.
Sibel Bozdoğan, September 2014