Tevfik Fikret’s House: Aşiyan
Tevfik Fikret’in Evi: Aşiyan
Keywords:Tevfik Fikret, Aşiyan, Ottoman Aestheticism, Aesthetic Movement, poetic image
Tevfik Fikret (1867-1915) is a writer whose biography and literary contribution has been significantly studied and researched; however, there is no detailed study about Tevfik Fikret’s house “Aşiyan” (which means “bird’s nest” in Persian). This text is an effort to understand the house that Fikret designed, where he lived from 1906 until his death in 1915. This article is taken from a more extensive doctoral thesis. It has an interpretive approach that sees the history of architecture within the scope of the humanities and therefore does not claim to be precise like the natural sciences. Since the study of the garden of the house, the decoration of the house, and its furnishings exceed the limits of the article, therefore they are only briefly mentioned in the context of their relation to the house.
Aşiyan was built on a slope overlooking the Bosphorus and Anatolian coasts in Rumelihisarı where it is far from the city center of Istanbul. Aşiyan is a three-storey house with two floors of wood structure on a masonry basement. The slope in the garden is arranged in the area where the house sits and a retaining wall that cuts the slope ensures that the house sits on a flat ground. There are service areas and a dining hall on the basement floor. On the ground floor there are the living room that hosts the poet’s literary meetings, a daily living room and other rooms at the back of the stair hall. The bedroom and Fikret’s study room are located on the upper floor. In Fikret’s house, the influence of the British Aestheticism and Arts and Crafts movements can be seen. These traces are noticed in the spatial organization of the house, the decoration of the house, its furnishings, and the elements on its facades. Apart from these, rocks, and stones, which are the dominant elements of the house and garden, are remarkable. The house is behind a large stone wall which unites with the stones around the window that Fikret calls the “Socrates Window”, thereby strengthening its relationship with the ground. The pool is built around a local rock and seating and tables made out of the rock in the garden that are arranged by preserving its natural qualities, are the signs of Fikret’s interest in rocks. The planimetry and façade layouts of the house also provide information about Fikret’s world.
In England in the 19th century, with the social transformations, their behavior patterns, from clothing to housing and design, from furnishing to urban arrangement, middle class elites who moved away from the local and traditional and opened themselves to new lifestyles, Aestheticism, which started as a literary attitude in line with Romanticism, turned it into a “Movement” reflected physical visibility. In 19th century Istanbul, when social and urban life began to change, the Ottoman cultural elite sought to create new living environments with their non-traditional thinking styles and aesthetic tastes. During the period when Tevfik Fikret was the editor-in-chief between 1896-1901, the literary figures gathered around the magazine, Servet-i Fünûn, were supporting the view that “Art for art’s sake”, which became the fundamental slogan of Aestheticism, had its literary beginning in French literature. This study examines the house, Aşiyan, designed and built by Tevfik Fikret, one of the leading representatives of the Servet-i Fünûn community, and reveals the tendencies of the turn-of-the-century cultural elites in their search for a new living environment and one aspect of the change in the concept of home in the late Ottoman society. Aşiyan reveals an aspect of Ottoman modernization with its architecture, space organization, decoration and furniture that differs from the Ottoman housing tradition and presents a structural example of “Ottoman Aestheticism” in turn of the century Istanbul.
In addition to his literary productions, Fikret’s romantic paintings, Art Nouveau designs in Servet-i Fünûn magazine (1896- 1901), Arts and Crafts and Aesthetic Movement influences in his home, Fikret revealed his individual identity by making the processes and meaning that created them a part of his life, beyond being influenced by the forms of the West. In addition to its historical value, Aşiyan also provides important data in terms of illuminating the life of a late Ottoman intellectual. The fact that he designed his house himself allows his spatial, formal, and decorative preferences to be revealed. The house is the architectural expression of the poetic image loaded with layers of meaning, revealing the intellectual and emotional world of the poet Tevfik Fikret as a physical entity.