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Riza Dervis Villa

Istanbul, Turkey
Rıza Derviş House_1.jpg
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depicted item: Rıza Derviş Housesource: SALT Research, Gültekin Çizgen Archive: https://archives.saltresearch.org/handle/123456789/80221

Büyükada is the largest of the Princes’ Islands (“Adalar” in Turkish) and designated as an urban conservation area since 1984.

Rıza Derviş House (1956-1957), located in Nizam District, in Büyükada, is an important element in the urban fabric of the island. The summer residence sits inside a big green garden overlooking the sea and which contributes to the surrounding landscape. The proportions of the building are quite appropriate for its ambiance both contextually and environmentally; such that, it is not easily seen from Nizam street, hidden behind a masonry wall.

Rıza Derviş House (Derviş Manizade Mansion) is one of the two buildings designed by the well-known Turkish architect, Sedad Hakkı Eldem, in Büyükada. Compared to his other project, Fethi Okyar Mansion in Büyükada (1936-37), Rıza Derviş House manifests a different design approach that is largely influenced by modern architecture. The building exhibits a rather rationalist style, and the influence of the works by F. Lloyd Wright and R. Neutra can be observed through similarities in the design elements. The exaggerated water spouts and cantilevered masses, as an example, are reminiscent of Wright's Fallingwater House.

The building has an L-shaped plan with two floors. On the ground floor, where the kitchen and service areas are located, also is a big living room that opens to the front garden. The large glass surfaces and sliding doors on the sea-facing facade of the ground floor that open to the green area can be covered with simple, one-color, floor-to-ceiling curtains on demand. The living space is further enriched by the fireplace design of the architect. On the upper floor, where bedrooms and bathrooms are located, there is a big terrace and the rooms which line side by side along a corridor have all access to this terrace. The terrace projects with concrete consoles over the outdoor areas (the garden in front of the living area and the entrance of the building) on the ground floor.

The house has a reinforced concrete structure. The door and window frames are made of wood, whereas the main parts of the walls are brutalist concrete painted partially white. On the façade facing Nizam Street, strip windows, one of the prominent elements of the modernist repertoire, stretch out on the upper part of the walls. While on other surfaces, the combination of an unplastered, bare reinforced concrete structure with wooden sunscreen elements can be seen. Not only in the building itself but also in all other indoor and outdoor features, including furnishings and garden furniture as well, there is the same simple design approach. Overall, the unity in the architectural language can be observed through certain design decisions, even on color; e.g., the metal elements (such as a swing, pergola, or lighting element) of garden furniture are of the same color as the dark green wooden shutters that dominate the facade on the upper floors and the suspended steps connecting the different levels of the outdoor areas. The unity in design is accomplished through this holistic approach, where elements and details of varying scales speak of the same modernist language.


The social value of Rıza Derviş House lies in the fact that it was designed by one of the most well-known Turkish architects, Sedad Hakkı Eldem. With this building, Eldem experimented with the modernist approach and shifted away from his general tendency in design. Furthermore, the family who commissioned the architect to design and build this house is also a well-known family in Büyükada. The property is still under the ownership of the Derviş family today. This continuity in ownership has evidently had a positive impact on the well-maintained building, owing to the family's caring approach and their sensitivity to protecting the existing architecture.

Rıza Derviş House reflects the aesthetic and cultural value of modernist architecture through its majorly preserved and untouched interiors and decorations, representing the modern living style of Turkish society during the period when it was built.

Significant alterations with dates:

Today, when compared with its old photographs and drawings, it can be observed that partial changes have been made to the building and site. Primarily, an unqualified reinforced concrete structure was built in the garden, to the left of the main building/Rıza Derviş House, which was not part of the original design as perceived from the drawings of the architect that were published in his book "Büyük Konutlar, Proje Uygulama" (1982). This additional building is approximately 150-200 m2 and is used as the gardener's residence. It must have been built at a later time after the completion of the Rıza Derviş House, at the request of the owner, and presumably, without consulting the architect. It presents no unity with the main building in terms of architectural language and aesthetics.

Another alteration is that part of the stone masonry wall on which the ground floor rises was partially removed in order to gain/acquire space in the basement and extended underground.

Effects of changes:

The gardener´s residence has no architectural quality thus, it disturbs the original design and is not suitable for the site. It disrupts the design integrity of the site, impairing the relationship between the main building and its surrounding green area. The new space under the ground floor is also discordant with the original design approach which had a strong emphasis on continuous lines and the unity of materials.

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