Architectural Design Studio Tutor’s Role in Education: Prof. Ataman Demir’s Experience at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University

Prof. Ataman Demir’in Proje Atölyesi




Architectural Education, Architectural Design Studio, Teaching Architectural Design, Academy,, Ataman Demir


Prof Ataman Demir (1938-2017) was a sophisticated academician who carried out his architecture career and researcher
identity simultaneously and successfully, made significant contributions to Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University as an Architectural Design Studio tutor. Demirs “Through the Ages Antakya”, “Arşivdeki Belgeler Işığında Güzel Sanat Akademisi’nde Yabancı Hocalar” and “Gazetelerde Sanâyi-i Nefîse Mektebi 1924-1939” named books are among the academic works referenced as the main source on the subject. Despite the importance given by the professor to archival research that shaped his academic career, his contribution to education as a tutor, especially in the architectural design studio, is on the verge of being forgotten, as his contribution to education is not documented adequately. Although it is difficult to document the action of teaching in design studio -which is not about the final product but about the process- it is important to transfer the tradition of education, the methods of the actors who contributed architectural education, to the next generations.
More than half a century has passed since Ataman Demir completed his education at the Fine Arts Academy with a first degree and started working as an assistant at the same institution in 1963. In addition to the administrative duties he took during his professorship and the lessons he gave for 40 years, he continued to teach at the Architectural Design Studio after his retirement in 2003. As a tradition that keeps the academy spirit alive retired professors continue to share their knowledge and
experience with young faculty members and students on the occasion of becoming “Architectural Design Studio Tutor”.
Tutoring is the longest and most valuable assignment of Ataman Demir, who is part of the tradition, at the Academy.
Architectural Design Studio which has formed the backbone of architectural education long before Ataman Demir entered the
Academy in 1957; forms the center of gravity of the whole program after the basic courses that students take intensively in the
first three semesters of their education. While the project course aims to give the student the ability to evaluate and use the
knowledge, methods and skills acquired in all disciplines through the education process, the studio ensures the existence,
continuity and development of architectural education with its tutor, assistant and student. Ataman Demir, the actor who stands out with his persistent style and approach in design studio, has trained hundreds of students at different stages of their
education by the agency of “vertical studio”. At the same time, he contributed to the academic careers of the assistants who
were assigned to him in this design studio process by ensuring that they were trained as project instructors.
Within the scope of this article, the interview method was used to document Ataman Demir’s architectural design studio
experiences with through oral history. Interviews were held with students who had the privilege of joining studio of Ataman
Demir, assistants and colleagues who had the chance to work with him. During the interview, sincerely and openly responses
of people who had close contact with Demir, were analyzed and gathered under the headings of “Teaching Style in
Architectural Design Studio”, “Tutor as Narrator” and “Contribution to Architectural Design Studio Assistants”. In addition
to interview method, also, based on Boyer’s (1990) study, Demir’s academic identity is analyzed holistically under the heading
of “University Professor’s Role”. For Boyer, the work of the professoriate might be thought to as having four separate, yet
overlapping functions. Demir’s publications about Antakya, as well as the archival documents he produced by referring to
foreign professors at the academy, are an indication that he keeps research - as Boyer, the science of discovery - at the center
of his academic studies. Demir expands his photographic work, which he started with research on the city of Antakya, with old
Turkish houses, the architectural heritage of Uzbekistan, and opens exhibitions. He tries to transfer his knowledge outside the
academy with his exhibitions, TV programs and documentary works. With these qualities, it can be said that Demir assumed
the role of integration-Boyer’s second function- making connections across the disciplines in his professorship. Besides these
qualifications, Demir’s building designs with different functions, his participation in architectural project competitions,
restoration works and consultancy duties are indications that he also carries out his professorship in practice -the science of
application- and transforms his professional skills into a social contribution. The act of teaching, which Boyer determined as
the last function, is the summary of Demir’s forty years of studio tutoring. During his entire time as an academician, Demir
has been actively involved in the training of today’s academics, as well as teaching in the architectural design studio without
During his years in architectural design studio at the Academy, Demir is one of the last witnesses of a period in which
academics, which started to be standardized after YÖK (Council of Higher Education), have not yet spread, in which each
teacher reveals their own style of studio coaching. Demir as an actor with his charisma, who left a mark in the project
workshop in architectural education; established a relationship with students with his unique style. Documenting how Demir
reflects his experience as a teacher will serve as an important example to understand this unique style.