The Islamic urban metamorphosis of the Golden City: the re-shaping power of architecture.

A city full of history, hinge between the East and the West, full of contradictions, dynamic and in continuous metamorphosis: this was and still it is Istanbul. A megalopolis whose global and multicultural characters are at its own roots itself and influence its own structure.These dynamics can be traced also within the mutations of the urban and architectonical scenario through the years.
One of the biggest metamorphosis that this city experienced is the transition between the Christian era and the Islamic one. The role of the architects of the Ottoman empire, Mimar Sinan ahead, has been crucial for the re-shaping of the old Byzantium into the Islamic Istanbul. They had to work hard to create blueprints of the new Islamic city that should fit the urban grids, typical of the roman way of planning. The imperial Istanbul, as capital of the Ottoman empire, had the duty to build up some urban symbols, to show to the world its cultural, economical, political and religious supremacy. Imperial mosques, grand bazaars (Kapaliçarsi), an imperial palace (Topkapi), grand public baths (hamâmât), hospitals (darüşşifa) and public kitchens (imaret) sprang up in the key points of the old city, re-shaping its structure. Emblematic symbols of Muslim influence arose in large number, pensil-thin minarets and massive domes extended their influence not only upon the urban architecture of the city itself but also upon the entire architecture heritage of the world.
This article is intended to outline the major urban changes occurred into the urban scenario during the process of “islamization” of Byzantium up to 1922 and focus on the role played by the architects of the Ottoman empire in re-shaping the city, giving like this the basis for a critical understanding of the contemporary situation.

BIO | Giuseppe Lacanna, ing. arch., born in Maratea (Italy) on 1983. He is a licensed architect in Switzerland (OTIA) and Italy (OAPPC –MT). Currently he is also a PhD researcher at the TU Delft, Department of Architecture. His interests spans from the architectonical design of healthcare buildings to the interactions between the built space, the users and the urban context. He graduated at the University of Florence (Italy) and at the TUL Liberec (Czech Rep.).

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