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Sinan Genim is one of the prominent architects of Turkey. The Pera Museum, The İstanbul Research Institute, The Antalya Arkeoloji Müzesi Avan Projesi, The Archeology Museum Premilinary Renovation Projects in Antalya and The Galatasaray Postal Museum is only a few of his projects. Sinan Genim [MSc. Architect] is a specialist in restoration projects and he has restored many buildings in Beyoğlu.

How was your childhood in Beyoğlu? Can you tell us about it?

I was born in Kasımpaşa. I don’t have a lot of memories about Kasımpaşa except my grandmother. My father owned a shop and a few repair shops which were closed down in time. My grandmother’s house was big, like a mansion. It was behind the Little Piyale Mosque. When you cross the wooden bridge, it was on the left hand before you arrived at the Grand Piyale Mosque. I remember going to the Women’s Fountain with my grandmother… The confectionary shop of my uncle… First inside the Allahverdi Passage, then in the market… I remember the elections in 1950. Crowds celebrating the victory of the Democrat Party with drums and horns on the Tabakhane Square… Itsy bitsy memories from Kasımpaşa.

Did you think that you would plan so many buildings for Istanbul when you decided to become an architect?

You can never think that. That is an issue of luck. In addition to luck, the effort you put forth is also important.

What is your favorite place in Istanbul?

Everywhere. Topkapı Palace, Sultanahmet Square, Pierre Loti, Anadolu Kavağı, all parts of Istanbul remind me the old city. The new city is tempting but I stay away from it because it does not make your life interesting.

What do you think about the transformation in Istanbul? Do you think that anything positive happening in the city?

Istanbul is always open to positive things happening. Istanbul has experienced the same things for ages. The Republican Era has created a new Istanbul, as Mehmed the Conqueror had created to a new Istanbul, as Mehmed the Conqueror had created to a new Istanbul, as Constantine had created Constantinople. It generated a new culture, a new structure. The 19th century, from there is a good example; when a palace was torn down and the Dolmabahçe Palace was constructed. The city had a new identity. You see that the buildings erected by the KİPTAŞ, TOKİ, and private building contracters have solved the gecekondu problem of Istanbul.

What do you think about the historic buildings in Beyoğlu? Do you think that they have been preserved well? What can be done to preserve them?

There are well preserved buildings. For example; I restored The Pera Museum, Istanbul Research Institute, and the Galatasaray Postal Museum. There is no option other than preserving these buildings if they confer prestige to their owners or users and meet their demands. Keep in mind that if humans disappear, buildings disappear, too. The most important thing is human; living life as a people and being happy. If this can be achieved, cities and buildings can be preserved.

What are your projects for 2011?

Okçular Tekkesi [Archers Lodge] is one of our priorities. We have one or two private housing projects. But I am concentrating on the third and fourth volumes of my book, Konstantiniyye’den Istanbul’a [From Konstantiniyye to Istanbul].

What about the projects in Beyoğlu? Pera Museum, Tophane Tower, the restoration of the French Passage at Karaköy, The Istanbul Research Institute, Galatasaray Museum, The Okmeydanı Restoration Project, and many others. Can you please describe them?

They are all considered hotels, indeed. We founded a museum, too. Abroad you see many museums depend on foundations. There is a public library at the Istanbul Research Institute. A library, photo collection, documentation center and so on… All open to researchers. We restored the French Passage. And the Galatasaray Museum too; the building has been saved. It has a longer life now. As an architect I save them; but the owners and managers are responsible for their preservation. If they have the same enthusiasm and dynamism, continuity is not a big deal.

I know that you are in love with Beyoğlu. What is the project you have dreamed of that would revitalise Beyoğlu?

Definately the Tarlabaşı Project. If it can be carried out. A simple example is Cihangir, which was succesful in its own, though it is chaotic. I think that the Tarlabaşı Project will liberate Istanbul. In this old part of the city, it is necessary to transform smaller properties into a single building plot. Underground parking lots need to be constructed. The Municipality of Beyoğlu is working on Tarlabaşı. I give my utmost support to their work.

How can Beyoğlu benefit from the Tarlabaşı Project?

The Tarlabaşı Project shows us that we have the capacity to transform. We gather and try to give a new life to a quarter that has been crumbling. We can see the result. If the restoration is a success, the project would spread to other parts of the city. If a certain district becomes prosperous and favorable, people in the neighborhood also consider enriching their own districts. In Turkey, there is a so-called revolutionary group which is against any revolutinary idea. They don’t want something to be done; they want everything to be left as it is. Istanbul will soon be a very important culture and tourism center. Income means added value. You cannot do anything without income. It is one of the reason d’etre of societies. If there is no added value in a society, that society does not have artist sor artisans. I owe my existence to the added value.

What do you think about our mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan s architectural projects and strategies in Beyoğlu? Do you find them effective?

Of course, they are effective. I find him very successful. He makes every effort. To be honest, the district has many opportunities. It has a potential; it rejuvenates itself. Nevertheles, he cannot do it in Kasımpaşa because there is rejection of it there. The mayor is very enthusiactic. He has the advantage of being young. He has a different perception of the world becasuse he has done tourism business. He is open-minded.

A prominent architect like you has a lot to tell young architects and broaden their minds… Would you give them a message?

I recommend they keep their enthusiasm and passion, to work hard, to learn a lot, and to be responsive to their profession and the city they live in.