Every month architects and industry insiders share their recommendations for the best exhibitions and events to visit in Istanbul. Views expressed on this page are those of the author, and may not reflect those of the editors of the Architecture Diaries.
MSc. Architect, Editor, Consultant, Part-Time Instructor at Ozyegin University
Banu Uçak graduated from Yıldız Technical University Faculty of Architecture in 2002. Over the course of a decade at the Building Information Center Turkey (YEM), she played a pivotal role in advancing architectural culture through the organization of conferences, competitions, and events. Since then, she has been an advocate for promoting Turkish architecture both domestically and internationally.
As she progressed in her professional career, Banu continued her postgraduate studies at Istanbul Technical University and completed her degree in 2018. Following her role at YEM, where she worked as Deputy General Manager at Seranit and later as General Manager at Ferko Construction, she directed the design processes of various projects, overseeing development, design, construction, and marketing phases. Transitioning to a freelance consultant, Banu now provides comprehensive support to her clients for securing high-quality architectural projects for new investments, covering a wide spectrum from concept development to designer/architect selection, marketing processes, and brand collaborations. Also, her work has been featured in various magazines.
Actively involved in content creation in the fields of design and architecture, including producing documentaries, giving speeches, curating, and writing, Banu contributes to the architectural culture in various domains, including serving as a jury member in national and international competitions. She served as a judge consecutively for the last seven years in World Architecture Festival. She also continues her role as a studio instructor in the architecture faculty at Özyeğin University, aiming to contribute to the profession and the creation of quality-built environments in various aspects of the field of architecture.
In 2017, she curated and presented an architectural documentary series titled ‘Reflections’ for National TV. In 2022, she produced a documentary titled ‘Homage to Masters,’ spotlighting prominent figures in contemporary Turkish architecture. Additionally, among her professional clients, she currently serves as a consultant for the Architects Association Istanbul Chapter.
As February unveils itself across the historic and dynamic landscape of Istanbul, the city emerges not merely as a backdrop but as a protagonist in a narrative rich with cultural and architectural dialogues. This month, I want to extend an invitation to embark on a journey that interlaces the rich fabric of the city with the domain of architecture, offering a curated ensemble of events and exhibitions that transcend the conventional confines of art to engage with spatial and architectural discourses.
At the heart of Istanbul, the Tate Modern Collection’s “The Dynamic Eye: Beyond Op and Kinetic Art” at Artİstanbul Feshane, with the support of İBB Culture and İBB Heritage, transforms into a canvas where global and local narratives intersect. Curated by Valentina Ravaglia, this exhibition showcases international perspectives through the works of 57 artists from 21 countries, inviting a reflection on contemporary art practices’ engagement and transformation of urban spaces.
“Suppose You Are Not” at Arter, curated by Selen Ansen, navigates the transition of personal and collective narratives within the architectural confines of a museum. Through nearly 400 artworks, this exhibition challenges our perceptions of space, memory, and identity, prompting a reconsideration of collecting practices and the architectural narratives they inhabit.
Salt Galata’s exhibition “Architectural Education in Turkey: Thresholds of Institutionalization from the 18th Century to Today” explores the historical evolution of architectural education, reflecting on its broader implications on urban development and cultural identity in Turkey.
The Sakıp Sabancı Museum’s “A Forgotten Woman of the Republic: The Many Ways of Melek Celâl” intertwines personal, political, artistic, and architectural narratives, examining Melek Celâl’s life and work against the backdrop of the late Ottoman and early Republic eras.
The “What Is Architecture For?” conference, taking place on February 21, 2024, at Sofitel İstanbul Taksim, organised by İstanbul Serbest Mimarlar Derneği emerges as a profound response to the question, “What can we do?”—a question that became increasingly pertinent in the aftermath of earthquakes that have challenged our built environment and social fabric. As one of the curators of this event, I have aimed to bring together a diverse array of perspectives that delve into the essence of architecture’s current role in the age of disasters. Throughout the day, I will be moderating discussions that explore the expansive boundaries of architecture, inviting participants to reconsider the profession’s capacity for impact and transformation in the face of adversity.
In this context, the presence of Marwa Al-Sabouni and Chen-Yu Chiu (Cho) becomes particularly significant. Marwa Al-Sabouni, hailing from the war-torn landscapes of Syria, brings a visionary perspective on how architecture can facilitate rebuilding and healing within communities devastated by conflict. Her insights challenge us to reimagine the potential of architectural practice to foster resilience and hope. Chen-Yu Chiu (Cho), on the other hand, exemplifies the transformative power of architecture in crises through his work with the Reyhanlı World Citizens Center in Turkey, a project that serves as a beacon of social cohesion and support for populations affected by war, poverty, immigration and earthquake. Both speakers embody the conference’s underlying theme: in the aftermath of disasters, architecture asks, “What can we do?”—not just in terms of physical rebuilding, but also in healing, uniting, and envisioning a future that embraces all facets of human and community well-being.
Also, the discussion between İlker Canikligil, a vanguard in “new media,” and Prof. Dr. Uğur Tanyeli, a revered art historian and academic, promises to bridge the gap between the architectural community and the broader public. This dialogue is a pivotal component of the conference’s objective to bring the often insular architectural discourse into the public domain, fostering a deeper understanding of architecture’s impact on society.
For those eager to participate in this enriching exchange and explore architecture’s multifaceted role in society, the Istanbul Serbest Mimarlar Derneği (İstanbulSMD) welcomes submissions and registrations through their website. This open call invites speakers, participants, and attendees to contribute to and benefit from this critical exploration of architecture’s capacity to respond to and shape our collective future.
By curating this selection of events and discussions for February, my aim is not only to showcase the vibrant interplay between architecture and urban life but also to foster a dialogue that extends beyond this month, enriching our collective understanding of the spaces we share. This programming is envisioned as a catalyst for continuous engagement with the architectural fabric of Istanbul, inviting us to reflect on, interact with, and reimagine the built environment around us. Through this initiative, I aim to inspire a deeper appreciation for architecture’s role in shaping our communities and to encourage broad-based participation in shaping the future of our urban landscapes.