ISVS VII, Istanbul


The seventh International Seminar on Vernacular Settlement on the theme ‘Reassessing Vernacular architecture: Theory and Practice- traditions, identities and globalization’ was successfully conducted at Istanbul Technical University, Faculty of Architecture building, Takisla, Taksim, Istanbul, Turkey, with the participation of close to 100 participants. It started a day before on 14th October, welcoming the early comers withe a cocktail under the sponsorship of the Chamber of architects of Istanbul, at Karaköy where the Chamber was located. This event was followed by a guided night tour of architecture by bus travelling to selected architecturally interesting sites of Istanbul. It concluded with the sea cruise- Bosphorous tour, culminating in a gala dinner at a gorgeous restaurant overlooking the sea.

The seminar as usual received a good response to its announcement. Well above hundred scholars showed their interest by snding abstracts. Of these, only 130 were accepted. However, after the reviewing and acceptance of the final papers, a total of 66 participants registered to present their academic papers. Close to hundred attended the sminar which took place in two parallel sessions over two days. They came from 23 different countries and were mostly architects and urban planners. All papers of the participants wee published in two-volume conference proceddings and were distributed to all attendees before the conference started. The members of the organizing committee and the scientific committee, as well as the keynote speakers attended as honourable guests. There were 12 scholars in the organizing committee; 26 internationally known scholars in the scientific committee, and 4 members from the ISVS Advisory Board. Several international scholars came from European research centres and architectural offices.

Six keynote speakers addresed the seminar which provided intellectually rich articulations on vernacular traditions. These included Prof. Naser Alsayyed from USA, Prof. Attillio Petruccioli from Qatar and Prof. Miki Desai from CEPT University, India. Three keynote speakers from Turkey provided insights on Vernacular from Turkey which is rich in traditions and the vernacular. The turkish keynote speakers were originally from the hosting university: the Istanbul Technical University.

However, it was not all serious talk. Many of the table conversations took place during breaks and these were coloured by the walks and travels to the historical sites of Turkey, through which networking and sharing of ideas took place. Most significantly, Turkish musicians performed and provided an ambiance of art and culture culminating in the participants spontaneous dance at the end of the gala dinner.

Some of the findings coming out of this conference are as follows:

  • It is global dynamics rather than modernity, that has a
  • negative impact tradition.
  • With rural to urban migration taking place fast in many countries, vernacular settlements are finding it increasingly difficult to retain the tradition and values.
  • Vernacular remain both visible and hidden in the arts and crafts of cultures as much as in everyday practices.
  • Vernacular settlements need to be sustained culturally and economically, if we need them to continue to exist.
  • Concept of the vernacular has become confusing lately. It needs to relate to the locality : geography and the people.
  • Without vernacular settlements, the cities will have a tendency to lose their identity.
  • examination of the existing unique vernacular architecture in place is a powerful policy tool that should provide balance to the increasingly globalizing world.

It is the participants that make a conference, a real confluence. a conference of this nature comes into being on the hard work of many people, who work tirelessly behind the show.