Bouvard’s Boulevards: Beaux-Arts Planning in Istanbul

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Abstract

From the early 18th century on, the ruling elite of the Ottoman Empire equated European civilization with progress. Not only technological innovations, but also social, cultural, and aesthetic values of the Western World were warmly embraced. A renovation project prepared in 1902 for the imperial capital, Istanbul, reflected this attitude in the field of urban design and architecture. Its author was a prominent Beaux-Arts-trained Parisian architect, Joseph Antoine Bouvard. Bouvard's five large-sized watercolor drawings, now in the Istanbul University Library, depict his proposals for the Hippodrome, Beyazit Square, Valide Square, and the Galata Bridge. The Hippodrome is made a geometrically landscaped park; Beyazit Square is converted into a civic center; the new Valide Square duplicates the Trocadero scheme of the 1878 Paris International Exposition; and the design features of the 1900 Pont Alexandre III in Paris are adopted for the Galata Bridge. Largely disregarding the architectural heritage as well as the geographical characteristics of the capital, the architect proposed a major facelifting operation with the intention of turning Istanbul into the Paris of the East. Although the abstract nature of this project made its application impossible, the image, transmitted through Bouvard's masterful drawings, enjoyed a great deal of praise from Sultan Abdülhamit II and his entourage. This article analyzes Bouvard's avant-projet against the background of early-20th-century Istanbul’s urban fabric.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-355
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Society of Architectural Historians
Volume43
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History

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