We’ve Lost a Prominent Figure in Architectural Historiography, Doğan Kuban

Having made tremendous contributions to the history of Turkish architecture, Prof. Dr. Doğan Kuban passed away last month at the age of 95. Doğan Kuban, who has many important works examining the architectural heritage of Turkey and Istanbul, was deemed worthy of the Presidential Architecture Award in 2019. In addition to being an architect, a restorer, and a historian, Prof. Dr. Doğan Kuban was a very valuable academician and teacher of many professionals in the field.

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Doğan Kuban was born in Paris in 1926. Kuban, who worked on Renaissance architecture in Italy in the 1950s, gave lectures in the USA as a guest teacher in 1962. He was the dean of the Faculty of Architecture at ITU between 1973-76.

For the first time in Turkey, he argued that the history of architecture should be considered as an independent field from the history of art and carried out studies in this direction. He worked for the establishment of the Institute of Architectural History and Restoration at ITU Faculty of Architecture. He chaired the institute, which was established in 1974.

He was appointed as the vice president of the High Council of Monuments in 1981 and continued his duty there until 1983, when the board was dissolved. He worked on the subjects of restoration, repair, and conservation. Together with his US colleague Cecil Striker, he carried out the restoration work of the Kalenderhane Mosque in Istanbul.

He argued that it is a wrong approach for Western researchers to see Islamic art as a homogeneous whole, and that although they share the same religion, the arts of various Islamic countries show both historical and geographical differences. He stated that Turkish art is a system of phenomena that should be evaluated within its own development conditions, and he tried to spread these thoughts both in his works, in the speeches he gave in various countries, and in the lectures he gave.

He published books and articles on Turkish, Ottoman, Anatolian, Islamic architecture, and art. His books were taught in universities. His works attracted great attention not only from the academic community, but also from the curious readers of the subject. His books, especially about Istanbul, found a place in the libraries of many people and institutions. He was a valuable member of the architectural world, who touched our lives with his researches, works, and lectures throughout his life. We are deeply saddened by the death of Prof. Dr. Doğan Kuban and express our condolences to his relatives and the Turkish architectural community.

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