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Ottoman Architecture and Balyan Archive
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The Balyans are a prominent family of architects who designed and built architectural works for the Ottoman sultans for three generations and achieved a unique interpretation of the Ottoman local architectural language, thereby shaping the architectural taste and preferences of the palace and marking the last century of Istanbul as an imperial capital.
The Balyan architectural practice, participated in by various family members, especially Krikor (1764-1831), his son Garabed (1800-1866) and grandsons Nigoğos (1826-1858), Sarkis (1831-1899) and Hagop (1838-1875), was formed by the personal histories intertwined with Ottoman social life as well as the professional knowledge passed down through generations and the expectations of the palace.
The Balyans never wrote down texts revealing their architectural thoughts. In the absence of such texts, which would have helped us in understanding their design philosophy, the Balyan architecture was evaluated only on the light of their constructed buildings for a long time, beginning with journalist and author, Viscount Alfred de Caston, who started the Balyan historiography. This book provides a comprehensive review and description of the drawings reflecting the design processes of imperial constructions, most of which belong too the Balyan Family Architecture Archive recently opened to research, and aims to introduce a new approach to the history of Balyan practice through unconstructed and constructed buildings.
Amont the achievements of the study are the identifications of architectural documentation in the Balyan Archive, such as the drawings of Beylerbeyi, Çırağan and Fer’iye palaces, the extension project for the Şale Kiosk’s Dining Hall, where the Çırağan Palace’s mother-of-pearl inlaid doors were reused, the renovation proposal for Bâb-ı Âli, the plan of the Esma Sultan Mansion in Kabataş, an important plan for the Ottoman History Museum about the repository of old weapon collections at Hagia Irene, projects for industrial facilities such as the Dolmabahçe Gasworks and the Imperial Fez Factory, and the drawings from the design process of the Aziziye Mosque, a little-known masterpiece of Sarkis and Hagop Balyan, which was the only selâtin mosque ordered to be built with four minarets after many centuries.
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