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2004    

CONTEMPORARY HAMAM  

WORKSHOP + EXHIBITION  

DESIGN + PROJECT MANAGEMENT  

ISTANBUL + STOCKHOLM

Anti-traditional

Anti-traditional, the title doesn't refer to a denial of the traditional hamam.

It is rather a search, an experiment, of an idea of creating a space that meets the needs of indeterminate cultural identities merging into a whole where borders become blurred and transient. In order to enable this transition, flexibility stands out as one of the fundamental facts that start the process of defining the idea of the anti-traditional hamam. Flexibility thus determines the contents of the project whereas a distinctive and immutable fact is fistinguished from it; the calidarium.

The calidarium, hot room, is the base and focal point of this experiment as the constant given. It is the invariable core of the complex - the only space where privacy is preserved. Privacy is a subjective notion and has specific subjective qualities. Safety, purity, perception through senses, timelessness, mind and body relief are the main qualities experienced within this privacy. To set these forces free, this space, referring to the calidarium, has no formal anxiety. It is an empty, simple, orthogonal vast box in which one is surrounded with light and water. To strengthen the sense of privacy, this box is preferably rectangular - slightly long - where a sense of space and distance is perceived by the bathing individual. It becomes almost a 'cathedral', as the Romans had named their baths, bearing sacred feelings.

Public areas housing other functions enclose this private area and these areas allow one to step into a so-called flexibility. These public spaces may be aligned or arranged accordingly due to any given site data. This data is shaped by geographical, climatic, sociological, physical and urban factors. The building becomes a complex where the traditional hamam bathing ritual takes place along with contemporary and variant side functions. 

The anti-traditional hamam does not follow the lead of traditional hamam in terms of formal perfection. It opposes the standardization of the formal route and ritual in how tradition shapes hamam, yet is constituted by the derivation of it, following the environmental factors and the functional movement inside the building. It chooses to preserve this spatial experience rather than simulating it. It is an aggregation of contemporary demands and possibilities extending beyond the conventional boundaries of tradition. It compels our mnemonic memory of hamam to possibly... change.

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