The Rationale for Designing Transformable Pavilion structures for Istanbul

Istanbul is awarded European Capital of Culture status for 2010. The city is preparing with many projects for this year long event. Within the scope of the studio, transformable disassembled multipurpose pavilions will be designed for various public events organized by municipalities in different parts of the city. The most visited public events of this kind are annually organized “Ramadan Festivities”. The specific task of 2009 studio will be designing flexible transformable pavilions for Ramadan festivities held at the square next to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

Ramadan is month-long observance of fasting celebrated with food and festivities. Aside from its spirituality, it is social, cultural, and political phenomenon causing considerable change in the social and cultural life all the people living in the city. These vary from country to country, depending on cultural influences, climate, locale and geopolitics.

Istanbul has long history about Ramadan Festivities dated from Ottoman period. The most important characteristic of Ottoman Ramadan was socialness where the people of the city regardless of any social status, religious or ethnic difference became social. A crucial aspect of Ramadan festivities was that they were not exclusively religious but rather dynamic, significant for the population of the city. There were different means of socialness during Ramadan in Ottoman period. One was the opportunity provided with Iftar meal which turned into a social event, among ordinary people aristocrats and as well as official level. Another were entertainment types that varied in level and form of socialness in Ottoman Ramadan’s. In 19 century city entertainment places were centralized in specific districts of the city. The crowd of people from all segments of society would gather in this entertainment places in order to participate in the activities happening at the coffee houses, fairs and theaters. The Ramadan festivities varied according to the particular season with which Ramadan’s coincided each year.

The nostalgia about the socialness and public visibility of Ramadan’s become apparent in resent years with Ramadan festivals organized by the municipality of Istanbul in different historical locations throughout the city. The biggest and oldest of these festivals is the one held at the square next to the Blue Mosque. During the whole month of Ramadan, the area is transformed into a big market place, packed with more than hundred stands for food, and small items trade. A well-intended initiation of the municipality aiming at reviving this tradition, Sultanahmet festivities are a subject of debate as to what extent this thought appeals to the historical version of Sultanahmet in application and to what extent it reflects Istanbul culture. Citizens of urban Istanbul who knew the social and cultural aspects of “Ramadan” complain about these festivities which turned into third class entertainment instead of what Ramadan is and how it was celebrated.

The spirit of Istanbul Ramadan culture is diminished with purely thought concept of transforming culturally rich and socially important Ramadan festivities into contemporary context. The open and semi-open space quality created with primitive demountable (for one use) pavilion like structures does not mirror Istanbul Ramadan culture but rather resembles a bazaar in some Anatolian village. More qualified urban festivities either for Ramadan or other public events can be actualized by developing the concept specific for that event and flexible transformable pavilion structures that could transform depending on predefined functions for specified concept.