Architect (B. 1908, Istanbul – D. 1988, Istanbul). He was raised in a family of artists. His father İsmail Hakkı Bey worked on paintings, made translations from foreign languages and was interested in music. He also engaged his children to these fields at early ages. Curator Osman Hamdi Bey and Halil Ethem Bey were kin of his mother. Eldem, who grew up in this environment, completes his primary education in Geneva, secondary education in Munich. He started his education of architecture in 1924 in Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi (Fine Arts Academy of Mimar Sinan University). In 1928 he graduated ranking first and was granted a scholarship of three years. He went to France, England and Germany to make use of it. He worked with Auguste Perret and Hans Poelzig, and met Le Corbusier.
Upon his return to Turkey, he worked for a while in Ankara in the office of the Italian architect Guilio Mongeri. In 1932 he returned to Istanbul and opened his office. In the same time he became an academic member in Fine Arts Academy. He continued this duty until his retirement in 1978.
The times in which Eldem worked as an architect is a period of uncertainty for Turkey between the dilemmas of national-international and local-global, as it was the case for other countries in the world. Eldem during this seek took a stance pro nationalism. This is clearly seen in his educational works and theoretical explanations about how the architecture should be. He started a work titled ‘Milli Mimari Semineri’ (T N. National Architecture Seminar) during the first years of his academic membership in Fine Arts Academy (1934). The purpose of ‘Milli Mimari Semineri’ was to expand the scope of researches related to national architectural works, to prove that civilian and anonymous architectural buildings were also worth to be researched and find new foundations for modern Turkish architecture. Eldem's rationalistic and functionalist designs in 1930s started to reflect his nationalist ideas since the beginnings of 1940. The design he prepared for New York World Fair in 1939 called Türk Pavyonu, can be regarded as the beginning of this period which defends this understanding in Turkish architecture.
Eldem is an architect who could adapt to changing conditions. Istanbul Palace of Justice (1949) he designed with Emin Onat by the end of 1940 is a good example of it. This design within the rationalist and functionalist approach played a great role to open Turkey to international opinions after the 2nd World War years when it was closed to outside. Following years make the period in which Eldem designed buildings to combine national and international qualities. In fact Eldem was producing in both perspectives. In his buildings addressing traditional functions such as houses, coffee-shops he mainly used formations inspired by the Turkish architecture, thus approaching the idea of national architecture. The best example of this is Şark Kahvesi in Istanbul Taşlık (1948-50; demolished in 1988). Aside from these, when modern functions such as administration, education and accommodation come into question, he chose a rationalist and functionalist way. Instead of using traditional elements when forming his building, he headed for forms which were appropriate for the conditions of the function, material and conveyor system. Examples are Istanbul University, Faculty of Science and Literature (1944, with Emin Onat), Ankara University, Faculty of Science (1947, with Emin Onat and Paul Bonatz) and Istanbul Hilton Hotel (1952, with S. O. M and Gordon Bunshaft). A successful example of Eldem’s new approach is Social Insurance Institution in Istanbul Zeyrek, he designed by the beginning of 1960s (1963-72), and another one is the Indian embassy in Ankara (1965; with Orhan Çakmakçıoğlu).He has built numerous residential buildings, mansions and seaside residences. Sirer Seaside Residence in Istanbul Yeniköy (1966-67) is one of the most successful buildings of him in this period. This building, which brought solutions to modern necessities with modern designing principles and building methods, was also in harmony with the traditional Turkish architecture so it would not be incongruous with the historical frame it was in.
Eldem has been a productive architect. Many buildings of modern Turkish architecture carry his signature. Among them are, Turkish Embassy in New Delhi (1966), Pakistan Embassy in Ankara (1966- 1976), Akbank General Directorate in Istanbul Fındıklı (1970), Turkish Embassy in Beirut (1972; with H. Şensoy and S. Sadık), Atatürk Library in Istanbul Taksim (1973) and Alarko Business Blocks in Maslak (1980-88).
Another field, which was important to Eldem, likes designing and application works, was architectural education. He administrated designing works during his duty in academy and lectured on construction methods. He continued his works he started with National Architectural Seminar later in Relief Chair administrated by him.
His interest in traditional Turkish architecture required him to be in close relationship with protection of buildings, which are products of this architecture. Eldem who was famous with knowing Istanbul and buildings in it very well served between the years 1941-45 in Commission of Antiquity Protection, 1962-78 in High Council of Fixed Ancient Artifacts and Monuments. Besides he worked in preparation units of 1st Construction Congress gathered in 1948 in Ankara. He was one of the representatives of Turkey for International Union of Architects (UIA) established after the 2nd World War and which realized its first general meeting in 1948 in Lausanne.
Sedat Hakkı Eldem was a widely discussed architect. He attracted many critics with his ideas. This caused his works to be pushed aside from time to time. However, Eldem thought that he could only achieve something with discipline, realized it and was in fact one of the most important Turkish architects of 20th century.
Eldem with his writings published in reviews such as Mimar, Arkitekt, Akademi, Mimarlık, Güzel Sanatlar, Sanat Dünyamız and Türkiyemiz and with his published books contributed to Turkish architecture and thought life.
He received numerous awards including Sedat Simavi Foundation Architecture and Urban Planning Award (1982), Great Arts Prize of Ministry of Culture and Tourism (1983) and Aga Khan Architectural Prize (1986).
RESEARCH: Geleneksel Yapı Usulleri (1941), Bursa Evleri (1948), Türk Evi Plan Tipleri (1954; 2. ed. 1968), Geleneksel Yapı Metotları (1967; 3. ed. 1970), Rölöve I, II (1968, 1. volume; 1977, 2. volume; with F. Akozan and K. Anadol), Köşkler ve Kasırlar (1968, 1. volume; 1973, 2. volume), Amcazade Hüseyin Paşa Yalısı (1970; with S. Ünver), Türk Mimari Eserleri (1976), Sadabad (1977), Boğaziçi Anıları (1979), İstanbul Anıları (1979), Topkapı Sarayı, Bir Mimari Araştırma (1982; with F. Akozan), Büyük Konutlar (1982), Türk Evi I, II (1984, 1. volume; 1986, 2. volume).
ARCHITECTURAL WORKS: Budapeşte Sergisi Türk Pavyonu (1931), Naci Paşa Köşkü (1932, Ankara), Tevfik Azmi Yalısı (1933, İstinye, Istanbul), Elektrik Şirketi Deposu (1934, Fındıklı, Istanbul; demolished), Seyhanlı Apartmanı (1934, Teşvikiye, Istanbul), İnhisarlar Umum Müdürlüğü (1934-38, Ankara; later Prime Ministry), Termal Oteli (1934:-37, Yalova; demolished in 1984), Okyar Köşkü (1936-37, Büyükada, Istanbul), Ahmed Ağaoğlu Evi (1936-37, Nişantaşı, Istanbul; demolished), Ayaşlı Yalısı (1938, Beylerbeyi, Istanbul), Tahsin Bey Yalısı (1938, Yeniköy, Istanbul), Ankara Devlet Konservatuarı Ek Yapısı (1938), Plaj Tesisleri (1956-59, Florya, Istanbul; with O. Çakmakçıoğlu), Plaj Tesisleri (1956-59, Kilyos, Istanbul; with O. Çakmakçıoğlu), Uşaklıgil Köşkü (1963, Emirgân, Istanbul), Kıraç Yalısı (1965, Vaniköy, Istanbul), Neslişah Sultan Yalısı (1971-72, Kandilli, Istanbul), Hollanda Büyükelçiliği (1976-77, Ankara), Kâmuran Sertel Köşkü (1975, Yeniköy, Istanbul), Rahmi Koç Köşkü (1975, Tarabya, Istanbul), Şark Sigorta Genel Müdürlüğü (1979, Bağlarbaşı, Istanbul), Mimar Sinan Üniversitesi Atölyeler Bloğu (1981-83, Fındıklı, Istanbul; with C. Eren).
REFERENCE: Semavi Eyice / TDV İslâm Ansiklopedisi (c. 11, 1995, 22-23), Ana Britannica, (cilt:8, syf: 94), Büyük Larousse (cilt:6, syf: 3606), Mimar Sinan Üniversitesi / Sedad Hakkı Eldem (1983), Sibel Bozdoğan, Süha Okan, Engin Yenal / Sedad Eldem, Architect in Turkey (1987), İhsan Işık / Resimli ve Metin Örnekli Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (2006, 2007) - Ünlü Sanatçılar (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 5, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013).