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Ragıp Devres Villa

  • The house designed by the Swiss-Austrian architect Ernst Egli for the engineer Ragip Devres in Istanbul Bebek left its mark on the Turkish villa landscape.
  • BuildingResidence
  • Ragıp Devres Villa

    Word Count: 4

  • Ragıp Devres evi, Ragip Devres House
  • Ernst Egli
  • 1932
  • Cevdet Paşa Caddesi No. 101, Bebek, Istanbul.

  • İstanbul (TR)
  • The house designed by the Swiss-Austrian architect Ernst Egli for the engineer Ragip Devres in Istanbul Bebek left its mark on the Turkish villa landscape.

    Word Count: 25

  • A few kilometres from the historic centre of Istanbul is the former fishing village of Bebek, where the prosperous elite of Kemalist Turkey built villas whose floor plans and occasionally also their external forms were positioned as progressive. This is particularly true of the residency designed by the Swiss-Austrian architect Ernst Egli for the engineer Ragıp Devres in Istanbul Bebek, which left its mark on the Turkish villa landscape. With its wraparound balconies, steel columns, flat roof and panoramic windows, the house follows the parameters of international architectural modernity and thus differs from the classic Turkish residential building.
    The break with tradition is also evident in the interior design of the building and the organisation of life inside it. In the classic Ottoman house, the women lived in the harem while the men lived in the selamlık, the men’s wing and reception area. Only their closest male relatives could enter the women’s quarters, and it was only there that the lady of the house was allowed to receive her guests (Nayman 1936, 510). As early as the end of the 19th century the Ottoman aristocracy and upper classes became increasingly interested in European types of housing and interior design (Gürboğa 2003, 62), but it was primarily after 1923 that a radical societal change and reform of housing took place. The floor plan of the Ragip Devres House consists of two rectangles nested inside each other, with all plumbing units and private rooms situated in the recessed wing and a single, prestigious salon for social gatherings which opens on to the garden occupying the other half. The planning of the parents’ bedroom and separate children’s rooms on the top floor was a concession to European living arrangements. At the request of the clients, Egli was also responsible for the garden architecture and the interior furnishings (Egli 1969, 51). In the dark wall panelling, built-in wardrobes and buffets there are visible references to Viennese interiors like that of the Moller House by Adolf Loos, built in 1928. A European style of residence and furnishings became the expression of a lifestyle that was the antithesis of that of an Ottoman house (Ernst Egli, in: Meier 1941, 1240). The architecture historian Oya Atalay Franck named the Ragıp Devres Villa the “poetic masterwork” (Franck 2012, 134).  

    Just a few years after the Ragip Devres Villa was built, the emigré biologists Leonore Kosswig and her husband Curt Kosswig also moved into a house in the suburb of Bebek (Inşirah Sokak No. 32), as did the philologist Erich Auerbach (Arslanlı Konak), the orientalist Hellmut Ritter (Inşirah Sokak No. 34) and with him his close friend, the philologist and painter Traugott Fuchs.

    Egli, who came to Turkey in 1927, was responsible for many ministry and government buildings in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey from 1923, and also left traces in Istanbul. He was a professor of architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul (1930–1936) and designed the Botanical Institute buildings, which for many years formed part of the Alfred Heilbronn Botanical Garden. Egli left Turkey in 1940, but returned in 1953–1956, working on behalf of the United Nations, and continued to work on Turkish topics, publishing his book on the Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, Sinan Baumeister osmanischer Glanzzeit (Stuttgart: Erlenbach) in 1954.

    Word Count: 537

  • Ernst Egli, Ragıp Devres House, Istanbul Bebek, Cevdet Paşa Caddesi No. 101, 1932/33, view from the street (Werk, no. 25, 1938).
  • Ernst Egli, Ragıp Devres House, Istanbul Bebek, Cevdet Paşa Caddesi No. 101, 1932/33, interior (Werk, no. 25, 1938).
  • Alpagut, Leyla. Cumhuriyet'in mimarı Ernst Arnold Egli. Boyut Yayıncılık, 2012.

    Atalay Franck, Oya. Architektur und Politik. Ernst Egli und die türkische Moderne 1927–1940. gta Verlag, 2012.

    Cengizkan, Ali, et al., editors. Ernst A. Egli: Türkiye'ye katkılar. Yerel yorumlar, eğitimde program, pratiğin muhasebesi. TMMOB Mimarlar Odasi Birliği, 2017.

    Demir, Ataman. Arşivdeki belgeler ışığında Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi’nde Yabancı hocalar. Philipp Ginther’den (1929) – (1958) Kurt Erdmann’a kadar. Mimar Sinan Güzel Sanatlar Üniversitesi, 2008.

    Dogramaci, Burcu. Kulturtransfer und nationale Identität. Deutschsprachige Architekten, Stadtplaner und Bildhauer in der Türkei nach 1927. Gebr. Mann, 2008.

    Egli, Ernst. Zwischen Heimat und Fremde, einst und dereinst. Erinnerungen. Ernst Egli Papers (unpublished manuscript, Zurich, 1969, ETH Library, Zurich) Hs 787:1.

    Gürboğa, Nurşen. “Evin Halleri: Erken Cumhuriyet Döneminde Evin Sembolik Çerçevesi.” Istanbul, no. 41, 2003, pp. 58–65.

    Meier, Werner. “So erlebte ein Auslandsschweizer die neue Türkei.” Schweizer Illustrierte Zeitung, no. 37, 1941, pp. 1238–1240.

    Nayman, Esma. “Die Stellung der Frau in der neuen Türkei.“ Europäische Revue, vol. 12, 1936, pp. 510–512.

    Nicolai, Bernd. Moderne und Exil. Deutschsprachige Architekten in der Türkei 1925–1955. Verlag für Bauwesen, 1998.

    Werk, no. 25, 1938.

    Word Count: 183

  • Burcu Dogramaci
  • Istanbul
  • No
  • Burcu Dogramaci. "Ragıp Devres Villa." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 12-04-2021.
  • Alfred Heilbronn Botanical Garden

    The botanical garden in Fatih was established above the Galata Bridge in historic Stambul in the 1930s. This was carried out at the suggestion of the exiled botanist Alfred Heilbronn.

    Word Count: 30


    The architecture magazine Arkitekt was an important platform for emigrated architects and urban planners such as Bruno Taut, Martin Wagner, Wilhelm Schütte, Ernst Reuter and Gustav Oelsner.

    Word Count: 28

    Leonore Kosswig

    The exiled biologist and photographer Leonore Kosswig was one of the pioneering women researchers travelling alone in the 1950s and exploring customs and ways of life in Turkey and Iraq.

    Word Count: 30

    Traugott Fuchs

    Traugott Fuchs was a multi-talented philologist, painter and poet who lived in Istanbul from 1934 until the end of his life in 1997.

    Word Count: 21