Ottoman Imperial School of Fine Arts’ Department of Architecture: Foundation Years and Early Graduates

Ottoman Imperial School of Architecture




Sanayi-i Nefise School of Architecture, Osman Hamdi Bey, Alexandre Vallaury, Ecole des Beaux Arts, First National Architecture Style


As of nineteenth century, the inadequacy of the Ottoman Imperial Architects’ Guild, triggered efforts to replace it with a new and modern institution. From among many proposals to the Sublime Porte, finally Osman Hamdi Bey’s repeated and detailed
petitions reached the conclusion and the royal order dated January 1, 1882, sealed the establishment of the Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi or today’s Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. Osman Hamdi Bey added Alexandre Vallaury, who had returned to Istanbul after his architectural studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and his architectural work in Paris, to his team. The school was inaugurated on March 3, 1883. By the turn of the century, Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi would be institutionalized to a considerable extent. And the architecture department increased its student body in both number and diversity of origin and nationality. Its graduates were realizing significant works of architecture as state architects or as freelance professionals.
The aim of this study, is to first elucidate how an institutional Fine Arts Administration with Turkish-Ottoman elements was
established in the Ottoman Empire. Then the focus is on early period of the Architecture Department of the Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi, a duration delimited by 1928 when the institution would be renamed Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi. Finally the paper attempts, owing to a heavy scrutiny of archival documents, to introduce the identities of the architect graduates of this period ,as well as their works and careers.