Artibus et Historiae no. 83 (XLII)

2021, ISSN 0391-9064

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DEBORAH HOWARD - Architectural Encounters: Ottoman-Inspired Typologies in Europe as Liminal Social Space (pp. 297–312)

This article considers the assimilation into Europe of built forms and typologies inspired by the architecture of the Ottoman Empire between the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the early eighteenth century. Four selected building types are used to illustrate the trans-cultural migration of forms: domed mosques and churches, Turkish baths, coffee-houses and kiosks. The essay suggests that elements of ‘otherness’ survived the process of translation to establish new local rituals and social hierarchies. In the earliest period knowledge of Ottoman architecture was transmitted mainly through diplomacy and intelligence gathering. Gradually the importation of new building types introduced unfamiliar social practices that occupied liminal spaces in western European cities. Frequented by a diversity of social classes, these places became sites of the exchange of knowledge and free speech. Significantly, even royal patrons recognised the political benefits of such unfamiliar building types. The exotic and free-spirited associations of the Turkish bath, the coffee-house and the kiosk percolated down through society to allow the diffusion of new information and social practices to an ever-widening public realm in Western Europe.

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