The third formalism: A study on the Arter building in İstanbul

Şahin U. B., Kömez Dağlıoğlu E.

Grid - architecture, planning and design journal (Online), vol.6, no.1, pp.233-253, 2023 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


Two major formal approaches have governed architectural discourse over

the last century: formal autonomy and formal engagement. While formal

autonomy disengaged architecture from its social, political, cultural, and

physical context, formal engagement of current architectural newpragmatism

hardly offered a critical evaluation of these contextual

features. Another approach is possible, which we will name here as third

formalism alluding to Anthony Vidler’s seminal article “The Third

Typology” (1998). This third formalism discusses the possibility of an

architecture that realizes both the separation from and engagement with

the external contextual conditions via the form. Without naming it as such,

this alternative approach has been articulated by Pier Vittorio Aureli in his

book The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture (2011). This paper aims

at discussing this third alternative by analyzing the Arter building in

İstanbul. Designed by Grimshaw Architects and opened in 2019, Arter’s

new building is located in Dolapdere, Beyoğlu, which witnesses a rapid

urban transformation. Arter is a good example of the third formalism since

its finite and definitive form neither directly follows the external forces of

its urban surrounding nor disregards its context by solely focusing on the

intrinsic formal elements of architecture.