As Hassa Architecture, we believe that in order to be able to produce new and correct architecture, one must first realize the value of our own cultural and artistic heritage, and accurately understand what tradition is, and what it’s not. Turkey’s architectural question is not an isolated subject, and like culture, art, literature and music, it is one of the links of the chain of civilization. In this sense, correct architecture can only be produced through a deep philosophical identity and vision. And such vision is not possible without a deeper look at one’s own roots.
We believe that we need to reproduce our cultural and historical heritage in modern times within the chain of tradition with new interpretations, but this time correctly, and without falling into degeneration, or resorting to replication. To be able to do that, “a feeling of belonging” is important. Preservation of historical works and reproduction of the culture is critical for preserving the culture by way of conserving those values that make up the shared consciousness.
Man is a cultural being; no man is without culture. Cultural assets may change, yet the personality given by that cultural heritage to man and his nation does not change. What shapes the correct attitude of man against the changing cultural world, what is his greatest support in the fight for preserving his personality, is the cultural heritage that is has been filtered through centuries. The past, indeed, has not passed.
As Hassa, we consciously avoid using terms like “modern structure” or “modern mosque.” Because, with its present meaning and nature, modernity has become the name of the rather materialistic approach of the western civilization toward things; of its way of understanding the world; and of its distorted ontological and intellectual approach to things. Everyone’s “modernity” should be derived from his or her own values, and should be “subjective,” rather than a mere replication. It is our claim that, if we manage to stylize our classical, civil and religious architecture with correct interpretations and conceptions, we can then produce the most beautiful examples of simplified art with new authoring and without losing our personality.
In new projects, to give the message that “plainness and simplicity are both difficult and very easy at the same time,” a message which is the essence of our architecture, we create clear spaces which can be read in the same way both inside and outside, and we use a smiling technology which always take into account the human factor during both production and consumption, to use less materials to create plain spaces that harbor splendor within that plainness.
There may be aesthetic commonalities or contact points between tradition and modernity, but a correct interpretation of the tradition never deserves such labeling as “modern or contemporary.” Such approach and discourse is a faulty and orientalistic way of approaching one’s own cultural sphere and values.
Tradition is a sphere of meaning where the universal meets the local, and they nurture and reproduce one another. Forms which emerge as tradition are carriers of universal values. The cultural degeneration and superficiality we are presently experiencing is a result of the erosion and decomposition of our values.
Conservation and tradition is to preserve the experience of centuries for future generations. As a measure of nobility in the heart of the nation they belong, architectural heritage and works of art are a manifestation of values accumulated over centuries. Civilization is the work of that noble attitude which knows how to select, to correctly produce, to preserve, to evaluate, and to reproduce and use. He who doesn’t know how to look at the old, or in other words, at what was produced in the past, cannot produce the new either.
Without taking tradition into consideration, without observing the main axis and intellectual background which has been filtered through centuries, one can neither notice the dialectic dynamism in the essence of tradition, nor can he make new and different productions with new “material-form relationship.” We believe that this is the only way in which correct change and different interpretations will be possible without losing focus.
When building a structure, one first reaches into sound ground, and lays a foundation. The moment we started to doubt our own values, we lost our sound ground. The “art, style or path” that we sanctify and call modern art today is a continuation of traditional western art, and has been erected on that foundation. If this is not understood correctly, there is “replication” then.
It is imperative that we realize the value of our civilization heritage, and search for new and correct syntheses for its continuation. Architecture is the mirror and formative language of a society. Whenever human and inborn values are exalted, or whenever chaos or a blurring of values occurs in a society, it is reflected first onto architecture, and then onto music. A repetitive culture which is incapable of reinventing itself is destined to degenerate and ultimately perish.
Whatever the modern world holds in high esteem, that and much more is held and offered by our own culture; what matters is the ability to unearth that. Since we have for the last 250 years drifted away from our own world of mentality toward a Eurocentric world view, unfortunately, we are unaware of our very own values.
We believe that we are today in need of an effort and thought system which is truly knowledgeable about world cultural and artistic heritage; which is aware of, but does not belong to western references; and which starts out from its own resources, and transforms the tradition in this fashion and on this very axis.