Arif Hikmet Koyunoğlu

Architect (B. 1888, Istanbul – D. 26^th July 1982, Istanbul). He was known with his works in line with “the First National Architectural Movement” in the first years of the republic. He started to draw pictures in early ages with the encouragement of Osman Hamdi Bey, who was the director of Müze-i Hümayun Museum in Istanbul and the friend of his father. He entered the Sanayi-i Nefise School (Fine Arts Academy, and Mimar Sinan University later on) in 1908 by turning towards architecture upon the suggestion of Ali Rıza Bey, who was his teacher of painting during his secondary education.

Arif Hikmet, who lost his father when he was fourteen years old, tried to make a living for his family and continued his education at the same time during his youth, passing with difficulties. He started to work in the construction of the St. Antoine Church in Beyoğlu that was being constructed by G. Mongeri, who was his teacher in the Sanayi-i Nefise School. He accomplished works such as photography and glossing the top of the minaret with people repairing minarets. Upon the beginning of the World War I (1914-18) when he was a junior student, he was conscripted as a reserve officer in the year of 1914 and he was sent to the Caucasian Front. When he was on the front, he worked for the foundation of the first ski troupe of the Turkish army, together with the officers brought from Austria.

Arif Hikmet searched for possibilities of working in Erzurum at the end of his military service during four years of war and he made the building of the Erzurum İttihat ve Terakki Club that doesn’t remain standing today. However, he returned to Istanbul since the chance of implementation was limited there. But Istanbul was occupied in these years. Therefore, he quit the architecture and he worked as a photojournalist in newspapers for a while and he also opened a picture and photography atelier. However, he was marked by the occupation forces in Istanbul, which was agitated by new events every day. Thereupon, he went to Ankara with the help of his friend Nevzat Tandoğan, who was the Governor of Ankara, and he started to work in the Evkaf Vekâleti Technical Committee as an architect (1922). Arif Hikmet, who didn’t stay a long time in this duty, tried to work as a freelancer. The act of architecture was conducted under very difficult conditions in the Ankara of those years and the materials of construction were very limited. With the thought of fulfilling this requirement, he founded a factory of briquette, mosaic tile and clay tile in the Akköprü district.

When a construction was needed for the valuable articles referred as “Sacred Trusts” that were kept in a mosque in Ankara, a proposal was submitted to some architects, but the project of Arif Hikmet was found desirable in the end. This construction, constructed in the first years of the republic, was the Ethnography Museum that was used as a temporary grave for Atatürk for a while. After this construction, Arif Hikmet, who started the construction of the building, which was planned as the Ministry of National Education, used as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs afterwards later and transferred to the Ministry of Customs and Monopolies today, finished this work under difficult conditions and with the available means.

The old building of the Turkish Organization, which attracted attraction for long years with its theater and its other rooms and is one of the most important constructions of Ankara, is also the work of Arif Hikmet. In this building, the fact that it was made use of the traditional Turkish motives especially in some rooms attracts the attention and the conceptions of the architecture and the adornment of that period are clearly seen. This construction, which was used as the community center and other institutions after the Turkish Organization was closed and which was repaired in the last years, is located just next to the Ethnography Museum and these two works reflect all the characteristics of the First National Architectural Movement. In addition to the constructions during the foundation period of the republic, Arif Hikmet also continued the same conception in some other constructions in Ankara.

Later on, Koyunoğlu started to work freelance by founding his own bureau. Koyunoğlu won the grand prize in the international competition organized by the Tayyare Association (Türk Hava Institution) for the aim of constructing a building of theater and cinema in Bursa, and he undertook the construction of the building. He settled in Istanbul in 1935. He drew the projects of some houses and apartment buildings in Taksim, Nişantaşı and Sultanahmet, he attended to their application and he continued these efforts until the age of 80. Apart from the architectural projects and applications, he also worked in the renovation of ancient monuments. In addition to architecture, he also worked as an insurance appraiser.

The name of Arif Hikmet stayed in the background for a long time after the declination of the “First National Architectural Movement” in the 1930s, from which he came through, but then he came to the forefront upon the fact that the building that he made in the years 1924-30 as the Head Office of Turkish Hearths in Ankara (the Community Center of Ankara later on, and then the Third Theater) was renovated in the 1970s and transformed to the State Art and Sculpture Museum of Ankara. Among the other important constructions of Koyunoğlu, there are the Ethnography Museum in Ankara (1925-28), the Ministry of National Education (1927, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after that and the Ministry of Customs and Monopolies afterwards), the Çocuk Esirgeme Institution (1925-30) and the Theater and Cinema of the Türk Hava Institution (Tayyare) (1930-34) in Bursa.

In addition to these official buildings, Koyunoğlu also made special buildings belonging to the top liners of that period in Ankara. The house of Celal Bayar in the Boulevard of Atatürk in Kavaklıdere, the house of Ruşen Eşref Ünaydın (the Lebanon Embassy), the house of Mithat Bey who was a former Parliamentarian of Maraş (the Israel Embassy), and the house of Falih Rıfkı Atay (demolished, the Polish Embassy is constructed on it) can be counted among them.

Even though Koyunoğlu designed his constructions in line with the conception of the period giving the impression that the traditional materials of construction were used, he also gave place to contemporary materials such as ferroconcrete. The internal equipment of the buildings was also arranged according to the admiration of the day. The seats in the grand meeting room of the Turkish Organization were made by the Austrian company Thonet and the chandeliers prepared according to the design of Koyunoğlu were brought from Czechoslovakia. In addition to his architectural works, Koyunoğlu also wrote writings dealing with subjects of culture and architecture in the newspaper “Hakimiyet-i Milliye” and in the magazine “Türk Yurdu”. In the year of 1980, he was given the “Honor Plate by the Ministry of Culture”, he won the “Ataturk Art Gift” in 1981 and he received the “Honor Plate by the Chamber of Architects” as the oldest architect in the same year. His memories that he put down on paper in the last years of his life were published in the magazine “Tarih ve Toplum” after his death.