Salt Beyoğlu Siska Restoration

Dr. Sinan Genim


The use of the word “restoration” for architectural works is quite a new comprehension. The word of restoration firstly began to be used for the literary movement that developed along with the revival of the monarchy following the Cromwell Republic in England.

In general, it is used with the meaning of bringing back to the old state, give back, to return, to give back its old function. The basis for the existence of a structure is human. Everything done by humans is made for themselves and what is important is that they serve human life. Essentially, the main purpose of the restoration of a building that has lost its original function should be to return it to human life. A restoration -return- that ignores human, human life, human expectations and contemporary life demands is not an acceptable notion. How do we restore a building made for enriching and enlivening human life, by isolating it from human? What matters is that a renewed structure is revived and returned to human life. In time, in particular for words adopted from foreign languages ​​into our language, new meanings are given to certain words; not knowing the true meaning of these words cause misinterpretations and mislead us.

Whatever you call it; whether restoration, repair or renovation. It should never be forgotten that all these activities are studies to enrich human and human life. Any work done without giving humans the priority is destined to disappear. In any structure, which is not built for the purpose of only appealing to the eye, but for the purpose of sustaining human life, measures must be taken to ensure that life continues in a safe way. Designed and implemented in accordance with the requirements of the day, most of the indispensable requirements such as structural system, heating, ventilation, cooling facilities, lighting, communication and display systems, fire security, shelter, access for disabled people and similar security measures can be put into practice by using modern techniques.

As often mentioned, the populist statements, such as preserving the original structural system, using traditional materials and construction techniques, are possible for some structures, in which the function remains the same and human life does not continue, in other words only serving the purpose of scenery. However, it is not possible for the structures that we want revived and in which we want the human life to continue, even if it is for different functions.

Whether under the name of restoration, fixing or repair, the general name for interfering with a structure in any way is architectural activity. It is not enough for a person, who is trying to perform such activities, to have studied architecture or to be entitled to work as an architect. The architect must have a broad knowledge of history, design, materials and practice as well as the experience to know modern architecture and to use it in a competent way. From prehistory to today, the result of any kind of architectural activity, without knowledge of the development and expectations of architecture and without internalizing the existing knowledge, is disappointment. Naturally, the existing rules and acceptances will be taken into consideration. However, it should be remembered that rules and acceptances vary and evolve in the direction of human experience and expectations. History shows us that societies and people who were not open to development and change have ceased to exist.

Unfortunately, what the large part of our society today understands from the word of restoration is that everything must remain as it was at the beginning. This idea, which is very common in bureaucratic stages, prevents new breakthroughs and causes all of the existing cultural assets to be perceived as a museum object. Our country has tremendous potential in terms of cultural properties to be protected. It is unthinkable to keep all these properties away from human experience and regards them as objects that are for the purpose of looking, to last forever.

We must never forget that a wise man like Mevlana Celâleddin who lived in these lands seven hundred years ago said;

“Today is a new day my beloved, it is necessary to say new things”.

In order to make a restoration project, first of all, it is necessary to be a successful and competent architect. Restoration attempt of an architect, who cannot build a structure of the contemporary age, or even beyond the contemporary age, causes great losses both in terms of structure and economic sense. It should always be remembered that the Architect Sinan, who lengthened the lives of many ancient structures during his period, especially Hagia Sophia by intervening, is a real architect who also constructed buildings beyond his time such as Süleymaniye and Selimiye.

“In your opinion, how free can an architect be?” Physical laws, statistics, engineering limitations… Some of them are trying to narrow down my little playground even more. I can not accept that “.

Frank Owen Gehry

We realized Narmanlı Han restoration in the light of these thoughts. It was built as a consulate nearly a hundred and fifty years ago, first a large part of the facade was demolished due to the road extension and was rebuilt in a different style by moving it back. A new building of two floors was built in the middle courtyard, then part of it was used as office and workshop, and part of it was used as rental house. We thought about how to return a structure that has been abandoned twenty-five years ago to human life and how to make it appropriate for use with function. We worked to find out how it would be possible to provide necessary fire, shelter and access for disabled people in every space used by the public within the framework of laws in force that we were obliged to comply with regarding static, installation and electricity requirements.

Naturally, we were aware that this structure, like every structure, also had the memories that were formed over time and must be moved to the future. However, we thought that these memories could go on with a structure that was revived. Who knows what memories a structure, which is isolated from people and where human experience is not going on, carry? I would like to thank Sinan Kasımoğlu and his team for their dedicated work in order to make this kind of thinking successful.

We are a group of people who grew up with the belief that we must learn the facts and that nobody and nothing can or should stop us. For this reason, we have gone through many troubles and it seems like we will continue to experience troubles as long as we live.