Dudok in turkey

Dutch architect and urban planner Willem Marinus Dudok (1884-1974) never fitted the official categories. He developed his own distinctive style and combined different Dutch modernist traditions into something unique and recognisable. He gained worldwide recognition for his design of the Hilversum's Town Hall (1928-31). In the 1930s, when the architecture of the Modern Movement was celebrated in Turkey as a symbol of modernity, Dudok was one of the architects of influence to a whole new generation of Turkish urban planners and architects.

l Hilversum's Town Hall Hilversum's Town Hall

Dudok visited Turkey for the first time in 1938 as a jury member for the design of the new parliament building in Ankara. At the time, Turkish media called him one of the best architects in the world. In the 1940s, Dudok was asked to teach at the University of Ankara, but he was unable to leave Netherlands due to WWII. However, in 1949 he returned to Turkey, once again as a jury member.

Dudok's big chance to work in Turkey as an architect and urban planner came in 1953 when Rauf Onursal, the mayor of Izmir, asked him to design a town hall, an opera house, a theater, and a cinema in the Konak District. Dudok was almost 70 at the time, but was very much inspired by the opportunities in the bustling city of Izmir. From his sketches, which are preserved in the archives of Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, we get an idea of how different Izmir may have looked if Dudok had the chance to realize his plans.

Izmir Konak Square 1950s

However, Dudok’s projects were not realized. In 1954, Dudok's friend and supporter, mayor Rauf Onursal, moved to Ankara as a congressmen after the parliamentary elections. Another enthusiastic supporter of the project, Governor Muzaffer Göksenin, was appointed ambassador to Baghdad. The new mayor and governor decided not to continue with the projects.

Now, the only evidence remaining of Dudok's ambitious projects are the drawings, sketches and letters in the Dutch archives. In October 2017, an exhibition and two day symposium were held in Izmir to show Dudok's unrealized designs to the world for the first time.