Dr arch. Meltem Vatan Captan – Deputy Dean of Architecture and Design Faculty of BAU Bahcesehir University in Istanbul

Interviewed by prof. Dr Rositsa Nikiforova

BAU is situated “At the heart of Istanbul” with its main campus on the edge of the Bosphorus in Besiktas District of Istanbul. It is very much stressed on the international collaborations of the university. The students from Turkey and from all over the world have the opportunity to take a course in the department in Istanbul, Berlin, Rome or Washington DC campuses. Also towards the end of each academic year the students have the chance to apply for BAU’s summer abroad programs in New York, in Washington DC, in Silicon Valley and in Hong Kong.

Faculty of Architecture & Design 2016 Spring and Summer Activity Calendar is a very reach one: Workshop with the theme ‘Tensile Membrane Structures’ (together with Institute for Membrane and Shell Technologies); Greece Summer School 2016; Workshop PLAYSCAPES “Infantes Ludens” (children at play) within the scope of INT 1002- Design Studies Studio; Digital Design Workshop etc.

The theme of this year’s Digital Design Workshop is ‘Exploring Topographies with Parametric Approaches’.

I congratulate Meltem for having such a successful carrier. I tell her about the good memories VDF colleagues keep from her presentation about Historical overview of the Turkish Black Sea coastal architecture four years before in Varna.

She answered some questions I formulated during my stay in Istanbul at a meeting in BAU University in April 2016.

Question: Today you have a teaching and administrative responsibilities in the educational process in Architecture &Design Faculty in BAU University. How would you describe this process, what are the advantages of your University, how you appreciate the overall education of architecture in Turkey?

First of all I would like to thank you for your nice invitation to have an interview. It is my pleasure to try to answer your questions.

I am proud of being an academic member of BAU, Faculty of Architecture and Design, Department of Architecture and vice dean of the faculty.  Our faculty includes department of architecture, department of interior architecture and environmental design and department of industrial product design. The core of our faculty – including all departments – is design studios which are supported with the theoretical lectures, elective courses, CO-OP courses and workshop, summer school and winter school activities. Additionally we give opportunity to our students to continue their education for a semester in Berlin or Roma campuses.

To make general comment on education of architecture is not easy; it depends to the university itself. There are universities with high quality of education of architecture or in medium level. Potential students should be very careful in their selection process.

The vision of our university and our faculty is BAU Global which means to compete with the best known around the world and to reach to the highest level.

Question: How you realize education at international level for your and foreign students?

The first issue related with being a global university and having lots of (almost 30 %) international students is to have English teaching language. Other issues that could be addressed with coping with international students and international level of educational architecture are to follow contemporary architecture and education of developed countries. Academic progress of our academicians has an important place as a vision of the faculty as well. Also giving information about international and European standards is important.

Question: What kind of workshops you have, what are the topics, which students participate?

As international summer programs we have Japan and Spain options annually. Additionally this year we will have Greece summer school. Besides, we have Cappadocia and Odunpazarı – Eskişehir summer schools. Besides summer schools we have lots of workshop activities such as Membrane workshop, wooden workshop, digital media workshop and the like. Those activities are open to all of our students. Mostly participation is like 50 to 50 percent in terms of nationality of the students.

The aim of these activities is to widen the knowledge of the students on certain topics or to have hands on experiences in architecture as site works.

Question: Working with many students, do you find something specific in the attitude of the young generation toward our profession?

The drastic change from previous generations could be defined as using of digital technology which is mostly a target more than an instrument for the new generation. Hand drawings and even writing notes during the courses almost is not an habit which means the way of learning is changed a lot. Having an opportunity to travel around the globe much more than previous generations gives the opportunity to see and interpret many examples of architecture and wide the vision which is positive in terms of experience the profession. For students communicate with foreigners, experience different cultures have important role of developing their selves.

Question: Is there any influence from foreign experience in architectural education at your University?

Surely, faculty members who have international or foreign experiences put inputs in their lectures or courses based on these experiences. Even culture, attitude and mentality gained from those experiences are inputs. More certainly, gained experiences could be addressed as lecture topics.

Additionally, experiences of the students gained from the local tutors from abroad campuses like Berlin and Rome have an important role in their perception of architecture. Spending one semester in abroad campus gives the possibility to experience foreign tutors and to see how other countries are dealing with education of architecture, what are the approaches of design studio in other countries and the like.

Question: What do you think would improve the architectural education globally?

It is not easy to give an answer to that question. From time to time I think about this but still I do not have any certain answer. The educational systems around the globe became more global and there are lots of similarities in the systems and curriculums theoretically. Accreditation systems like Bologna or NAAB accelerate this globalization in the educational systems, however, the condition of the country, the culture, level of primary education, financial situation and the like are not the same around the globe where the education system of architecture tries to be made in the same level as accredited one. Due to the fact that all these issues globalization in education of architecture is not easy. Even the target of politics of the countries has an impact on the education of architecture such as sustainability approaches, environmental friendly designs, the objects of the subsidies given by the government direct the education and design topics dealt with during the education. For example in some European countries where natural resources are used as energy resources and the government stimulate professionals to work on this topic green architecture and environmental friendly design, green certificates systems are very important. On the other hand as architects and academicians it is also very important to teach these topics and raise awareness on reducing carbon foot print for us, however, the situation is not certain like this in Europe for our country. In that case these lectures are become quite theoretic and to encourage young generation to work on this topic is not easy.

Question: How do you realize the postgraduate programs for the certified masters and what graduate programs, tied to the practice offers your University?

Master programs include two different options such as with thesis or without thesis. There are not any restrictions or prerequisites for applying to Master program in our Faculty. We do not have any certain relation with practices. Professional practice is the responsibility of the student.

Question: Does the current economic and political situation affect your interest in the education of architecture?

Architecture always is one of the top preferred departments in university decisions of the potential students. It is quite strange that although the percentage of unemployed people is quite high and to find a position is not easy architecture is still a popular choice. Due to the fact that some of the students do not have any target of making their profession still architecture is quite popular. The intention of some students is to have only a diploma and some of them have intention to continue in the office of their parents or relatives. These are the basic facts of having a large amount of students with tendency to apply to the faculty of architecture.

Question: How do you appreciate the architectural implementations in Istanbul? I notice two different trends in the style of sacral construction: The modern Sancaklar mosque in Istanbul, Emre Arolat Architects, 2014 and the new mosque under construction Çamlıca Camii – the most giant one of the Asia minor coast.

It is possible to say that there are two completely different followed styles in our country like modern architecture and traditional one. The modern part is represented by Arolat, Tabanlıoğlu, Avcı, Tümertekin who are known also in international level. The oppose style is more related with religious buildings and effected by Middle – East styles. I cannot critic these styles as an academic one. It might be seen from the critics and the comments of critics.

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