In Turkey “contemporary” architecture is perceived as a construction activity rather than a cultural field. The word contemporary is emphasized here deliberately since in the public realm architectural history, or its artifacts are valued due to their historic identities. Identity has been the catchword in architecture for over 80 years. Even though the content of the identity changes in every period -between a scale of conservatism and progressiveness- the search for an integrating identity does not change. It is usual for any nation who had a breaking point in its natural course of history, to experience fluctuations while developing a perception of cultural fields and in this sense architecture has been one of the best reflective fields.
The search for identity created perception templates for the man on the street with the help of the mass media. Those templates usually dictate that “once we had created one of the greatest architectural cultures of the world” and “the remnants of those cultures should inspire the new productions.” This crooked idea dominated the building productions of the state and many municipalities, which resulted in contemporary-kitsch examples in public buildings. This concept is best visible in the architecture of mosques. The religious and historic baggage of this type of buildings is very loaded in Turkey, but it is almost impossible to see experiments in the contemporary mosque architecture even though it is the only building type that has been built in great numbers both by individuals, neighborhood communities and by the state itself.
Civil architecture -especially residential architecture- suffers from problems brought on by rapid urbanization. This realm is dominated by apartment types mostly built by small contractors without the help of any regular architectural service. In all cities in Turkey, the urban tissue is formed by these typical multi-storey apartments, ignoring any geographical or social features as a design input. Thus the man on the street longs for the appearance of historic residential settlements. Actually the “Turkish house” has become a myth, almost a heroic figure in the minds of the public realm due to several academic studies which became popular sources for documentaries and mass media. The preserved Safranbolu district and the popularization of this small village and its buildings, created a motif that can be replicated or applied to any type of buildings in any scale. Today in many applications, especially the ones initiated by the municipalities, we see the replication of some architectural elements of this ‘typical Turkish house’-leitmotiv in schools, court houses, ferry terminals, apartment buildings even in industrial facilities.