Emre Arolat

Founding Partner, EAA - Emre Arolat Architects
Istanbul, Turkey


Sigfried Giedion, Space, Time and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition, 1941

Without any doubt, this classic work, which has been republished numerous times, is one of the most influential sources on modern architectural thought. Sigfried Giedion (1888 – 1968) was an important historian and a significant actor in the Modern Movement. He was the first secretary-general of the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) in 1928, and had very close contacts with the pioneers of Modern Architecture. All this makes this book very enticing.


Christopher Alexander et al, A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, 1977

A Pattern Language, which is the second in a three-book series that Alexander wrote, had a very assuasive effect on me during my university studies. I remember the comfort and confidence I felt when I finished reading this book as I was struggling with other cumbersome texts. As a very rough summary, I can describe it as a long text that uses several scales, different ranges, and various instruments to scan the whole architectural field and build a perceptible working document about designing and constructing the various elements of the built environment.


Aldo Rossi, The Architecture of the City, 1984

“La Tendenza” was the pioneering international architectural movement that came out of Italy in the post-war period. As a practicing architect, Rossi was the leader of this movement, but he also was an influential theorist. The Architecture of the City is his major written work and is a critique of the Modern Movement that focuses on cities and emphasizes the collective memory and the public realm. I remember how as a university student I had a lot of difficulty reading this book in French. I found it boring and confusing. A few years later, I tried to read it in English, but still found it boring, and I realized that the problem was not with the language in which I read it. Just like his buildings, Rossi’s writings are important and deserve to be considered very carefully, but they are not easy to live with. Despite that, this book is one of my all-time favorites, as is the case with most of Rossi’s buildings.


Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City, 1960

Some say that Lynch’s The Image of the City is as important as Camillo Sitte’s The Art of Building Cities. Others find it too formalistic. It is one of my favorite writings about large-scale design theory. This easy to follow book discusses environmental images in our urban lives by mostly analyzing the central areas of three American cities: Boston, Jersey City, and Los Angeles, and by focusing on the evaluation of city form. In addition to the readability of whole text, its images, maps and other graphics are extremely clear and informative.


Sibel Bozdogan, Modernism and Nation Building: Turkish Architectural Culture in the Early Republic, 2001

I find this book by far the most useful and impressive source about early modern Turkish Architecture. Architectural historian Sibel Bozdogan expresses the cultural history of a very critical period in the evolution of modern Turkey, which begins with the 1908 Young Turk Revolution and extends until 1950, when Kemal Ataturk’s Republican People’s Party was first voted out of power. The text is very valuable not only because of the information it provides us about the architectural approaches of this era, but also because it sheds light on the complex relationship that took place between modernity and nationalism in Turkey.


Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, 1996

This work by Juhani Pallasmaa is a significant criticism of the domination of sight over the other four senses in architectural culture and design. The book is a revelation for its readers, and it provides new and fresh insights regarding architectural culture.


Vincent B. Canizaro (ed.), Architectural Regionalism: Collected Writings on Place, Identity, Modernity, and Tradition, 2007

This collection of writings includes essays by more than forty important historians, critics, and architects, including Christopher Alexander, Alan Colquhoun, B. V. Doshi, Kenneth Frampton, Sigfried Giedion, Le Corbusier, Richard Neutra, Suha Ozkan, Juhani Pallasmaa, and James Stirling. The book provides a very useful exploration of the concept of regionalist thinking in architecture, which is extremely important today as the notion and sense of “place” is being rapidly crushed and blurred under the influence of global neo-liberalism.


September 7, 2014