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Archiving matters

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The history of architecture in Turkey hasn’t been recorded in a continuous manner yet. A history written without gaps and mistakes turns out to be impossible due to the scattered and scarce nature of surviving documents.

The most distinguished portal that provides an overall view of contemporary architecture in Turkey is Arkiv (Arkitera Architecture Center – 2003). Although not following a consistent chronology or format, the second important portal is the virtual museum of the Building Information Center (2004). Started in 2008 as a joint project of Garanti Gallery and Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Architecture and Design Archive Turkey (ADAT) has been scanning materials from the beginning of the century till now. What makes this archive unique and important is the fact that it covers both design and architecture. It's been planned that, as of 2011, ADAT will be available online for researchers and will be accessible to the public via projects such as exhibitions and publications in the form of a “living archive.” The visual archive located at the web page of The Chamber of Architects of Turkey is not accessible for public use. The documentation of these institutions is mostly digitally, and the original documents are rarely kept. The main reason for this is the difficulties (mainly economic) encountered in perpetuating the conditions of such an archive. It takes a long time for a long term project to produce noteworthy results. All these parameters are major obstacles for possible investments... Consisting of drawings, preliminary sketches, correspondences, publications, photographs and models, the collection of NAi is one of the most comprehensive architectural archives of our time. Its members have access to the database which uses a system called “Collection Information System” online. NAi is a major contributor to the architectural community by organizing comprehensive exhibitions both using its own archive and by collaborating with other archives. To encourage and support such initiatives in Turkey, various cooperative efforts can be considered with the Netherlands.