Born in Turkey in 1908, Sedat Hakki Eldem studied in the West before he returned to Istanbul to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1932 he became an assistant professor at the Academy. In this capacity he acted as a major catalyst in the development of Turkish architecture.
In the early 1930s, Eldem rejected the Beaux-Arts tradition and gave his support to early functionalism. He developed a style partially based on the nationalistic atmosphere of the new post-war Turkish Republic. During the 1940s, Eldem shifted his focus to the vernacular architecture of the late Ottoman period in both his teaching and professional life.
Borrowing from the plans of old Turkish houses, Eldem designed a series of houses in Istanbul using modern materials and a functionalist geometry. After 1950 Eldem integrated a functionalist vocabulary with elements of a traditional Turkish vernacular, but structural expression remained a priority.
For Eldem, creation of a modern national style remained a supreme goal which led him to emphasize form rather than function in his design. He has always remained a sensitive designer of facades and details.
Since his retirement in 1978, Eldem has published materials on traditional Turkish domestic architecture.
Source: Adolf K Placzek. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects. Vol. 2. London: The Free Press, 1982. ISBN 0-02-925000-5. NA40.M25. p20-21. (http://architects.greatbuildings.com/Sedad_Eldem.html)
Recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1986.
In the 1960s when this complex was designed and in construction, Turkish architects were engaged in a reassessment of the tenets of the Modern Movement, leading them to seek a "new regionalism" in architectural expression, as an answer to the dominance of the International Style. This office complex reconciles both theoretical positions. It is as disciplined and rational as the modernist canon requires, yet without compromising its modernity, it responds to its regional context, respecting the historic landmarks nearby, and remains sensitive to its site, which is a steeply sloping plot at the corner of a major intersection. At the time of its design the architect would have been expected to assemble the space into a high-rise slab that dominated its setting. This low, cascading structure links a dense old quarter of wooden houses at the top of the hill with contemporary buildings along a modern boulevard below. The jury believes this building to be "one of the earliest and most refined examples of contextual architecture in the international Modern Movement."