Born in Turkey in 1908, Sedat Hakki Eldem studied in the West before he returned to Istanbul to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1932 he became an assistant professor at the Academy. In this capacity he acted as a major catalyst in the development of Turkish architecture.
In the early 1930s, Eldem rejected the Beaux-Arts tradition and gave his support to early functionalism. He developed a style partially based on the nationalistic atmosphere of the new post-war Turkish Republic. During the 1940s, Eldem shifted his focus to the vernacular architecture of the late Ottoman period in both his teaching and professional life.
Borrowing from the plans of old Turkish houses, Eldem designed a series of houses in Istanbul using modern materials and a functionalist geometry. After 1950 Eldem integrated a functionalist vocabulary with elements of a traditional Turkish vernacular, but structural expression remained a priority.
For Eldem, creation of a modern national style remained a supreme goal which led him to emphasize form rather than function in his design. He has always remained a sensitive designer of facades and details.
Since his retirement in 1978, Eldem has published materials on traditional Turkish domestic architecture.
Source: Adolf K Placzek. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects. Vol. 2. London: The Free Press, 1982. ISBN 0-02-925000-5. NA40.M25. p20-21.