"Chaos is not the opposite of rhythm but the milieu of all milieus"
Deleuze & Guattari



Thursday, 23 September 2010

ATATURK'S SEA HOUSE



Built for an ailing Ataturk as he neared the end of his life in the 1930s, this trophy house hovers over the sea in a suburban setting just outside Istanbul. Still within a government complex today, you have to wander past armed guards and white timber houses reminiscent of a Floridan retirement community before you reach the striking jetty that leads to the strange building itself. Set off a straight white sand beach, it is a whole-heartedly Modernist architectural example, with light streaming into the white rectangular rooms through large sliding glass doors, long window-lined linear corridors and macho Deco furniture left 'exactly as it was'... ie. arranged as the perfect dolls house for Turkey's republican hero.


Even when inhabited by Ataturk it possessed this performative quality. Positioned precariously over the sea, his presence here was all about projecting an image of good health as well as popular condescension through his bathing on the same beach as 'the people'. Access to the beach was in fact controlled and Ataturk never stayed here long.


Once inside, the non-functionality of the place as a real home of this 'machine for living' is unnerving. The little set-like rooms - the children's rooms, study, meeting room, master bedroom and guest suite (where Wallace Simpson and the Duke of Windsor, the abdicated king, stayed) all feel flimsy and cramped and the whole place is just so exposed.



BUT it is a beautiful structure that epitomises the healthy living iconography of the Modernist project, highlighted by the completely brilliant items of clothing displayed in a cabinet in the house. Sadly I didn't take photos but laid out (in a hilariously stately fashion considering they are basically a precursor to Speedos) are some amazing high waisted navy blue swimming trunks with white elasticated belt with huge shiny clunky buckle, also some fantastic woven sandals that would look at home on a Marni catwalk and a beige linen bath robe covered in red and navy polka dots. Obviously a stylish swimmer was Ataturk.