ALI – ‘Monstrosity’

‘Monstrosity’I am indebted to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan for adding the word “monstrosity” to my vocabulary.He used this word to describe sculptor Mehmet Aksoy’s unfinished statue in Kars.

Aksoy is Turkey’s most skilled master of the art of making social and political life, history, sorrows and love visible using stone and bronze. The then-mayor of Kars, who was from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), wanted to sponsor the construction of a statue regarding the “Armenian question” and Aksoy won the competition.

I saw the statue’s model and was impressed. It featured a split body.

There was also a hand being extended. The prime minister saw it as a “monstrosity.

” He ordered the demolition of the unfinished work without even consulting Aksoy or the people who had started the project. The demolition of the monstrosity will always be remembered.

Thus, we re-lived the story of Kerem and AslI as regards the Armenian issue. The extended hand went unanswered and the term “monstrosity” has been etched into my memory.

This word crossed my mind when I saw the place and architecture of the new Prime Ministry building that is under construction at the Ataturk Forest Farm (AO) in Ankara “This building deserves to be described as a monstrosity in many respects,” I thought to myself. I found it strange not only because it has destroyed the AO — which was the primary source of oxygen for Ankara, a city located in the middle of forest-free steppes — but also because of the size of the project and its disrespect to the capital.

The area allocated for the building is 40,000 square meters while the total project area is 200,000 square meters. The building has 1,000 or 1,001 rooms.

The architectural characteristics remind one of the tastes of Romania at the time of Nicolae Ceausescu. To destroy the AO with such a freakish, strange building clearly amounts to creating an ugly wound in the lungs of Ankara We do not know how many trees have been felled.

Putting this building in a first-degree protected zone is a portent of lack of respect for history and environment. The construction is under way despite decisions made by the Ankara Administrative Court and the Council of State to halt it.

It is no doubt that it will be remembered as a monstrosity that disregards history, the environment and rule of law.It will be a symbol of disrespect for the history and architecture of the city of Ankara A cursory look at the capital of the 1920s and 1930s — or of the pre-Mayor Melih Gkek era — is enough to understand that the Turkish Republic was a blessing for this young capital, which has always been in the shadows of Istanbul.

Planned along the KIzIlay-Ulus axis in 1927, Ankara features the finest example of Clemens Holzmeister’s art deco architecture. The entrance to the General Staff’s headquarters is one of the best examples of art deco architecture around the world.

This also applies to the Prime Ministry.Likewise, the Parliament building — which blends art deco, Bauhaus and neo-classical architecture of the 1930s — was planned roughly around the same period and its construction lasted until the 1960s.

Although it suffered profound destruction in the 1990s, this building is the most beautiful parliament building in Europe. If traces of the 19th century’s architecture can be preserved, Ankara may emerge as an interesting capital with striking art deco examples.

Any capital’s architecture cannot be seen as a set of unrelated buildings. It consists of buildings that are interconnected within the framework of comprehensive urban planning.

In this context, the Parliament building is like a monument.It is significant that the General Staff’s headquarters were located away from the ministry buildings and at a vantage point.

Parliament symbolically sits on a hill, overlooking the ministry buildings. Its architectural elements signify control.

It is as if it monitors the ministries. Students of architecture should read about how Berlin was planned after it became the capital once again, as well as about the political culture created in the architectural climate of the Bundestag in the company of the decade-long debates.

The Prime Ministry building, which is being constructed despite objections from the public and the inhabitants of Ankara, is an effort to undermine Ankara’s capital architecture. It is our civic duty to raise objections to this monstrosity that is called the Prime Ministry building and to defend Ankara’s legacy and the Ataturk Forest Farm.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman