Hagia Sophia as a Facture: Originality through Appropriations

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Virginia Tech


This dissertation aims to investigate the hybrid facture of one of the most influential buildings of architectural history, Hagia Sophia, which has been a source of wonder and awe since its construction in the sixth century. Since the first temple erected on that site; old-new, future-past, forgetting-remembering are all intertwined in the imaginative act of initiating and its continuous making as re-makings that manifest the building as a palimpsest-in-the-becoming. Its originality lies not any of its chronological beginnings but its diachronic facture of interweaved historical, mythical and architectural strata of its remakings through appropriation. The conquest of Constantinople, a central moment in Hagia Sophia's macro-history, marked the beginning of the diachronic appropriation of the site and building elements that are of Byzantine origin. By employing the south turret as the site of the minaret, the appropriation became a twofold strategy of preservation and innovation that ensured sacredness and continuity. An intertwined narrative was factured by complementing the material appropriation with deliberately constructed mythopoeic and visual re-makings of Byzantine texts and representations. Evliya Celebi's tale in which an Ottoman architect was said to have laid the foundations of a minaret preceding the conquest and the Dusseldorf manuscript, an idiosyncratic version of Buondelmonti's Liber Insularum Archipelagi are the two accounts through which this study aims to open-up a multi-directional dialogue to explore the appropriation program of Hagia Sophia. Within this framework, a critical revisiting of the concepts of facture, making, palimpsest, original, spolia and their respective relationships will provide clues to tackle the transformation process the building is going through currently. In a way, its hybrid facture will act as a paradigmatic model for the future undertakings.



Spolia, Appropriation, Hybrid Facture, Architecture, Building, Hagia Sophia, Ayasofya