Ege Taşrasında “Modern”in Mitleşmesi: Kemer (Bozdoğan, Aydın) Ve Demirköprü (Salihli, Manisa) Baraj Siteleri Ve Lojmanları



Dam projects involve not only the construction of the dam itself but also the construction of a settlement, almost a microcosmos that would meet all the needs of the employee during the construction and later performance of the setting. Kemer and Demirköprü Dam Sites and lodgings, which were constructed in the 1950’s, share both contextual and formal features. Moreover, both might be examined as genuine cases within the general framework of “workers’ housing” that provided accommodation for the workers and engineers during the construction process and for the permanent dam operating staff after their completion. They were both conceived by the US consultant firm (Knappen Tippets-Albert-McCarthy) and carried out by Franco-Turkish partnership consisting of E.M.C (Les Entreprises Metropolitaines et Coloniales) and the RAR Türk Limited Sosyetesi. While potent findings prove that the lodgings were designed by a team of Turkish architects including Kemal Ahmet Arû and Emin Canpolat, the oral history research conducted in both dam sites reveals that the designs of the lodgings have been ascribed to French Constuctors firm and this narration has settled as an overpowering myth. The article aims at tracing the reason behind this mythologisation and unfolds it as a strategy to reconcile the tension between traditional and modern lifestyles.

Within the scope of the article, the social, political and physical contexts of the 1950’s are examined in order to unfold the meanings and roles attached to dam construction from the viewpoint of both political actors and the inhabitants of the rural Aegean. Both dam projects appeared as a channel to legitimize and exalt the economic and political goals of political parties and they have become a major field of learning and experiencing for Turkish engineers and technical personnel lacking the technological know-how and equipment for dam construction.

Furthermore, the spatial and social characteristics of Kemer and Demirköprü dam sites and lodgings have been analyzed comparatively. It is apparent that both projects, despite reproducing the hierarchical strata in spatial terms, have appeared as sites of negotiation that a variety of lifestyles, habits, dwelling cultures of different nations and social classes (workers and engineers) confronted and eventually reconciled in the 1950’s. Here, creating myths has operated as a mechanism for the reconciliation of the traditional and the modern through the lodgings and their spatial equipment. Kemer and Demirköprü dam sites have conveyed and disseminated a modern dwelling culture to the Aegean rural context, which is far away from the urban atmosphere already acquainted with the modern; thus, they have operated as catalysts for the transformation of their close surroundings.


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