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Emin Halid Onat


Emin Halid Onat

Emin Halid Onat
Born Emin Halid Onat
(1908-12-20)December 20, 1908
İstanbul, Turkey
Died July 17, 1961(1961-07-17) (aged 52)
İstanbul, Turkey
Nationality Turkish
Occupation Architect

Istanbul Palace of Justice, 1st prize, 1949

Anıtkabir International Architectural Design Competition, 1st Prize, 1942

Sivas People House Building Project Competition, 2nd Prize, 1938

Kadikoy People House Building Project Competition, 2nd Prize, 1938

Yürükali Beach Architectural Design Competition, 1st Prize, 1935

Bank of Provinces (Municipalities) Architectural Design Competition, Honorable Mention 2, 1935

Emin Halid Onat (1908–1961), was a Turkish architect and former rector of Istanbul Technical University.

Onat was born in Istanbul in 1908. He entered Istanbul Technical University in 1926. Then, he was sent to Zurich Technical University. Onat was one of the architects of Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. His architectural style is formed at ETH. His teacher Otto R. Salvisberg is a well- known experienced practicing architect. So Emin Onat learned, searching, experimenting and interpreting modernism from him. His architectural style is under the Anıtkabir's shadow but he has unique approach.


Onat's architectural talent blossomed at Zurich Technical University, where one of his fellow students was Otto Rudolf Salvisberg, who later went to become one of the best architects of his time. Onat completed his studies in Zurich and returned to Turkey in 1934. Within a year, he had become an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture at the School of Engineering. He held the post for a couple of years that were marked by strenuous relations with the other members of the faculty, owing to the novel methods of teaching Onat introduced. In 1944 Onat became the first dean of the newly established Faculty of Architecture at the Istanbul Technical University.[1]

Onat rose further into the echelons of the architectural world in 1946, when he was given an honorary membership of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). In 1951 he became the Rector of the Istanbul Technical University, a post he held for two years. The Hannover Technical University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1956. In 1957 he returned to the university. His return lasted only three years as on 21 October 1960 he and 147 faculty members were ousted from the university.[1]


Onat designed several impressive buildings during his career. These include the Istanbul Theatre and Conservatory, [1]


His professional life can be divided three period;

  • Functionalism with Bauhaus style; he mostly made competitional projects
  • İstanbul Tiyatro ve Konservatuarı, 1935, Istanbul
  • İstanbul Galata Ferri Station and Passenger Hall, 1936, Istanbul

There is a very clear functional order and careful search for monumantallity.

  • Halik Zigal House, 1941-1942, Istanbul

The last example of his early modern designs. It has two storey and simple prismatic look. Functional order and horizontal emphasis are a sign of modernizm.

  • Classism with traditional interpretation and nostalgia; he was searching for reference at this years. Onat's approach at this era mostly concentrate on interpreting rasyonalism in anatolian housing architecture. In this period his most significant works are Köy Enstitüleri and Anıtkabir

These are established with special lows. This projects must be simple, rational, functional and applicable, like model projects. Except the structurel parts whole building built by villagers and students. The complex building contains 44 functional building.

  • Istanbul Faculty of Science and Literature, 1942-1952, Istanbul

It constructed onside of Zeyneb Hanım Mansion. It designs as a complex that enclose a courtyard. This courtyard bring a classist look in plans so Emin Onat used double or triple height holes and cpassages with coloned. This building show up the architects' historical trends of period. At the other side it shows functionalis approach and the high technology usage.

It is single stroey building and it has a high basement. This house is an example of 1940's historical trends and anatolian architecture understanding. Timber balcony, gable roof, narrow overhangs and the timber windows are the typical elements of that. Interior has very modernist plan. At south façade the sleeping facilities are located and the service spaces are located at north façade.

  • Vali House, 1945, Bursa

It has a courtyard /core in the shape of square, the courtyard emphasis with a pool and the common spaces are located around the pool like living room, rest room, tea room. Sleeping facilities are located outside the square frame that open to terrace garden. The timber elements are typical with Onat.

  • Cenap And House, 1952, Ankara

As of 2014 it was being used as a Music Museum. It is a two storey building, built out of local masonry, It has elements that come from anatolian architecture for example "çıkma motifi" window proportions and overhangs. Despite of its local look, it has a very modern plan

Onat used Anatolian elements at exterior and his buildings have traditional looks but they have modern and functional interior plans.

Anıtkabir's design refers to antique mausoleums, so it couses a lot of discussion.Most significant and important characteristic of Anıtkabir is that compatible with Rasartepe's topography. It has an horizontal silhouette. It has two perpendicular axis and it opens to city from 4 way. It has a bond with city and this bond make design unique for place, but the monumental look of it distinguish Anıtkabir from city. Monumantalizing the design makes it a conceptual opject. Anıtkabir visualize its symbolism even in its ornaments.

  • Return to the modernism
  • Kirazlıyayla Prevatoryumu Bursa,1946

Prevatorium was a great center for members of Milli Egitim Bakanlığı placed in the forest.Onat created little touches for the necessities of health function.For ınstance,rationsof the atrium in the building.

  • Yapı Kredi Bankası Bursa,1946

It was a space that have rectangular mass and a mixture of historical elements.Also structure axies have large and long window openings,especially the upside of windows have cross lines.Finally,large canopy was placed outside of the building.

  • Istanbul Adalet Sarayı 1951-1955, Istanbul

After the fire of the old place authorize prepared a competition twice.The first time they did not accept any project.But the second time M.Emin Onat and Sedad Hakkı Eldem won it. Building was built the west side of the most important part of Istanbul.Moreover,there was a huge argument happened because of the government rules and for protecting the area. justice Palace was functional building, court’s units sorted rhtmical and connect into a large corridor.

  • T.C Cumhurbaşkanlığı Genel Sekreterlik Binası, Ankara,1953

The building belongs to transition period of Emin Onat’s style.It occurred from long rectangular form and double-height also so pure design in the facade with this feature it gains a speciality at that period’s building. Entrance of this building located from the long edge of rectangle and defined with square canopy.That was really important at that time.Unfortunately,the building was demolished.

  • Emniyet Sarayı, Ankara,Hipodrom,1956

Firstly the complex had lots of program but just Office side was built.Main building have 14 floor the other supporting building have 3.Main building have high pryzmatic mass.These features it had international style.In addition,there was a harmony of architectural things for instance the geometrical balance between balconies and windows.

First of all it was a social building. Maybe this apartment blocks the most unknown project of Emin Onat however it was the most interesting one.He effected from Le Corbusier’s ‘Unite d’Habitation’.Building occurred from 3 units in the same street.It separated from period of time with located on the horizontal mass of ladder plastics and circulation corridor that connect balonies.

  • Hayat Yapı Kooperatifleri Evleri 1953-1961

Rising prismatic mass remind people an effect of Le Corbusier style.His design has functionality of using common area. Unfortunately,on the facade lots of degradation happened today.

Primarily,ıt was a housing building that located in the seacoast.Building’s features are 5 floor,concrete,reflected international style,have 2 block and modern.Large window openings can simplify to get more seaview.Also the vertical elements are the most dominant part of the building.

Project was a new trying of housing buildings.He solve the problem of project’s topographia and city’s connection bravely but this project was never built.

  • Ankara Zafer Meydanı, Ankara,1959-1961

In early period of Ankara it was a modern and simple building but today it become a bazaar and lost.

Onat spent more effort in that social building.It keeps lots of program such as beach hotel,disco,sail,club etc. It was the closest building to Onat’s teacher at ZurichOtto Salvisberg’s modernist ecole.Unfortunately,small part of complex was built then changed a lot.

Devres was the last project of Emin Onat.Building could separated from the equal examples at that time with high entrance and using the sloping area also have square floor plans and have 6 floors.Finally it was a perfect example of ınternational modernist style of Turkey.


  1. ^ a b c

External links

  • Emin Onat: Biography
  • Emin Onat: Architecture
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