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Bruno Taut House

  • Architect Bruno Taut’s house in Ortaköy stands on a hillside with a panoramic view of the Bosporus, located at the point where Asia and Europe are closest to one another.
  • Kind of Object:
    Residence
  • Name:
    Bruno Taut House

    Word Count: 3

  • Alternative Names:
    Bruno Taut evi
  • Creator (Person):
    Bruno Taut
  • Year Start:
    1938
  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Emin Vafi Korusu, Ortaköy, Istanbul (residence).

  • City:
    İstanbul (TR)
  • Introduction:

    Architect Bruno Taut’s house in Ortaköy stands on a hillside with a panoramic view of the Bosporus, located at the point where Asia and Europe are closest to one another.

    Word Count: 32

  • Content:

    The Berlin architect Bruno Taut (1885–1938) arrived in Istanbul in October 1936. Istanbul was his second place of exile. Taut had co-founded the Arbeitsrat für Kunst in 1918, at the end of World War I, and was a member of the Novembergruppe. He later worked as a city planner in Magdeburg and cooperated closely with non-profit housing associations. In this context, Taut was responsible for numerous housing settlements in Berlin. Thanks to his close contacts with Moscow, where he actually wanted to continue his career, Taut was on the National Socialists’ “blacklist” from early 1933. He was advised by confidants to escape and, on 1 March of that year, fled with his partner Erica Wittich, first to Switzerland and then on to Japan. After years of limited working possibilities, Taut accepted an offer from the Turkish government in 1936. He left his Japanese exile and travelled via Korea, Manchuria and Beijing to Istanbul.

    Taut was to head the architecture department at the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts and the buildings department of the Turkish Ministry of Education – with responsibility for new school buildings in Ankara, Trabzon and Izmir (Nicolai 1998, 133–152; Dogramaci 2008, 151–160). In 1937, soon after his arrival, Taut decided to build his own house, on Emin Vafi Korusu in the neighbourhood of Ortaköy. Just 4.2 kilometres from the Academy, it was only an hour's walk away and could also be reached by tram or steamer. He also planned a second building in Ortaköy, a house for the emigré surgeon Rudolf Nissen (Nerdinger et al. 2001, 392).

    Taut’s own house was built on a hillside with a panoramic view. The one-storey building has a rectangular ground plan and sits on a cement slab measuring six-by-fifteen square metres, resting only to a minor extent on solid ground (Aslanoğlu 1980, 144f.; Zöller-Stock 1994, 68f.). A three-tiered tiled roof completes the front of the elongated section of the building, which is topped by a tower room designed to house Taut’s study. Each storey is pierced by ribbon windows, which, in the lower sections, direct attention towards the water. The tower room boasts a near-360-degree panoramic view.

    In 1973, the first bridge across the Bosporus was constructed in the immediate vicinity of Taut’s house. He had chosen a site where Europe and Asia are closest to one another. One can only guess whether this choice was influenced by his former exile in Japan and a desire to be able to see the Asian continent. It is perhaps more likely that he was fascinated by the transition expressed in the form of water and the space between West and East, Europe and Asia.

    Of all the German-speaking architects in Turkey, Bruno Taut was the only one to design a house for himself there. This reluctance to build a home for oneself can be explained by the short-term contracts offered to foreign specialists, which had to be extended at regular intervals. Taut's decision to build a house of his own quite soon after his arrival was undoubtedly a reflection of his self-image as an architect. In Taut’s texts, theorising about society-building forms of construction and types of housing is closely linked with his own building and dwelling practice. In 1927, his home in Dahlewitz, built in 1925/26, became the subject of a comprehensive study in the publication Ein Wohnhaus (Jaeger 1995). The book Taut wrote in Japan, Houses and People of Japan (Taut 1997), similarly features the Japanese house in which he lived with his life partner. As a figure of memory, Taut evi in Istanbul refers to his own building experiences, such as Berlin-Dahlewitz, or to what he saw and inhabited in Japan (see Dogramaci 2019, 97–101).

    It is worth mentioning that in 1938, the year Taut finished his own house, he also published his teaching book in Turkish – Mimarî Bilgisi – a transcultural reflection on proportion and architecture with references to his life in Germany and Japan.

    In 1992, more than 50 years after Taut's death, the Turkish poet Ahmet Özer wrote a poem in honour of the architect: “A poplar square surrounded by laurel and orange trees, with the cut stone of Idadi / cypresses around the tomb, and curious children send the call to humanity after the prayer call and the ringing of bells, the Black Sea is still blue / the waves reflect the gulls' cry, the world has not yet experienced the Second World War / the news of the dying are not yet on the radio, the architect Taut sits in a motorboat, he dreams of a new world, between his thin fingers the windows. / schools in brick colours, the branches moving in the wind / the students reading Pushkin look out over the sea in all its breadth / days full of salt and sea, on the other side the green storm shaken out of cold water. With a telescope he looks at the fields / At the houses with gardens, magnolias blowing in his face / Fleshy green leaves, white flowers like velvet / Like a bride's veil / Bury me in a village cemetery in Anatolia. / Whether this is the last will of Nasim, who lies in the castle in Bursa, or architect Taut does not want to leave the city he loved so much, the magnolia is now a ring / on the finger of the beloved, under the dark red coat he carries the voices of the birds. (Özer 2003, 27; Translated from Turkish)  In poetic form, Özer summed up Taut's work at the academy, which is situated on the banks of the Bosporus overlooking the water, his dreams of an artistically-shaped world and his death on 24 December the same year.

    Bruno Taut was interred at the Edirnekapi Martyrs’ Cemetery (Edirnekapı Şehitliği), one of the oldest cemeteries of Istanbul. He is one of the few non-Muslims to be buried there. On Taut’s gravestone is a footprint which symbolically as well as physically refers to the traces that migrants have left on the urban matrix of the city on the Bosporus.

    Word Count: 981

  • Signature Image:
    Yapı, No. 13, 1975, cover with Bruno Taut House at the Bosporus, photo: Bülent Özer (Private Archive).
  • Media:
    Bruno Taut House, Istanbul Ortaköy, Emin Vafi Korusu, 1937/38 (Junghanns 1983, ill. 331).
    Bruno Taut House, Istanbul Ortaköy, 1937/38, view from northwest, drawing by Tulay Gündüz und Mesut Işcan, 1967 (Yapı, No. 13, 1975).
    Erica Wittich-Taut, Bruno Taut (l.) and the architect Şinasi Lugal at Taut’s exhibition, opened up at the Academy of Fine Arts, Istanbul, June 1938 (Archive Manfred Speidel).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Akcan, Esra. Architecture in Translation. Germany, Turkey, & the Modern House. Duke University Press, 2012.

    Aslanoğlu, Inci. “Bruno Tauts Wirken als Lehrer und Architekt in der Türkei.” Bruno Taut: 1880–1938, exh. cat. Akademie der Künste, Berlin 1980, pp. 143–150.

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

    Dogramaci, Burcu. “Home, Heimat, foreign land. Bruno Taut’s villa on the Bosporus and the architect’s house in emigration.” A Home of One’s Own. Emigrierte Architekten und ihre Häuser. 1920–1960 / Émigré Architects and their Houses. 1920–1960, edited by Burcu Dogramaci and Andreas Schätzke, Edition Axel Menges, 2019, pp. 93–107.

    Dogramaci, Burcu. “Arrival City Istanbul: Flight, Modernity and Metropolis at the Bosporus. With an Excursus on the Island Exile of Leon Trotsky.” Arrival Cities. Migrating Artists and New Metropolitan Topographies in the 20th Century, edited by Burcu Dogramaci et al., Leuven University Press, 2020, pp. 205–225.

    Jaeger, Roland. “Bau und Buch: Ein ‘Wohnhaus’ von Bruno Taut.” Bruno Taut: Ein Wohnhaus (1927). Gebr. Mann, 1995, pp. 119–147.

    Junghanns, Kurt. Bruno Taut, 1880–1938. Henschel, 1983.

    Nerdinger, Winfried, et al., editors. Bruno Taut 1880–1938. Architekt zwischen Tradition und Avantgarde. DVA, 2001.

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

    Taut, Bruno. Das japanische Haus und sein Leben / Houses and People of Japan (1937). Gebr. Mann, 1997.

    Zöller-Stock, Bettina. Bruno Taut. Die Innenraumentwürfe des Berliner Architekten. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1993.

    Word Count: 228

  • Archives and Sources:

    Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Baukunstarchiv, Bruno Taut Papers.

    Word Count: 9

  • Acknowledgements:

    My deepest thanks go to Manfred Speidel, who gave me permission to reproduce a photograph from his collection.

    Word Count: 18

  • Author:
    Burcu Dogramaci
  • Metropolis:
    Istanbul
  • Entry in process:
    no
  • Burcu Dogramaci. "Bruno Taut House." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/2949/object/5140-8103249, last modified: 20-06-2021.
  • Arkitekt
    Magazine
    Istanbul

    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

    Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and Wilhelm Schütte Apartment
    Residence
    Istanbul

    The exiled architects Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and Wilhelm Schütte lived from 1938 in an apartment in Kabataş, on the European side of Istanbul. The flat has been preserved in numerous photographs, allowing the interior design to be reconstructed. The view of the Bosporus from the balcony was spectacular.

    Word Count: 48

    Mimarî Bilgisi
    Book
    Istanbul

    The architect Bruno Taut published his textbook Mimarî Bilgisi in 1938, only two years after his emigration to Istanbul, where he was appointed professor at the Academy of Fine Arts.

    Word Count: 29

    Festive architecture for the 15th anniversary of the Turkish Republic
    Temporary street architecture
    Istanbul

    One of the first commissions of the architects Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and Wilhelm Schütte, who emigrated to Istanbul in 1938, was a street architecture for the anniversary of the Turkish Republic.

    Word Count: 31