A "BACKGROUND" ARCHITECT IN LATE 19TH CENTURY ISTANBUL: ANNIBALE RIGOTTI
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In parallel with the modernization efforts during the Tanzimat Era, Italian architects increased in number in the Ottoman Empire from the second half of the 19th century onwards. These architects worked in many cities of the Empire, especially in capital city Istanbul. They played an active role in transferring Western architectural styles and technologies to the East. A prominent figure among them was Raimondo D'Aronco, who came to Istanbul during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II. D'Aronco arrived in Istanbul in 1893 to design and realize the Istanbul Agricultural and Industrial Exposition (Dersaadet Ziraat ve Sanayi Sergi-i Umumisi), which Abdulhamid II planned to organize. Soon after beginning to work on the exposition, D'Aronco requested a committee of assistants from the Palace due to time constraints and large scale of the project. He also requested that a part of the members of this committee, picked personally by him, are brought from Italy. Subsequently, a few Italians came to Istanbul to aid him on the project. One of them was Turinese architect Annibale Rigotti, whom he met back in 1890s. After almost an entire year of preparations, the Istanbul exposition was cancelled due to the major earthquake that took place on July 10, 1894. Other known members of the assisting committee returned to Italy, but Rigotti stayed in Istanbul with D'Aronco. After the earthquake, he participated in the repair works of Yildiz Palace and assisted D'Aronco on projects ordered from outside the Palace. Also, independent from D'Aronco, he prepared a few projects, although these were not realized. After these projects, he accepted re- designing and managing construction of the TbilisiBatumi railway mediated by a German company. At the end of 1896, he went to Turin for new year holiday and never came back to Istanbul by giving up last Ottoman related work. Rigotti, who got his architectural education at Albertina Academy in Turin, has started his career at a young age with a daring move by coming to Istanbul. After this experience, he continued his international career in Bulgaria and Siam (Thailand). He formed his genuine architectural style by combining his classical education from the academy with the contemporary Austrian-German architectural tendencies as well as the experience from these international works. Thus, he made important contributions in shaping modern Italian architecture. He continued friendship and collaboration with D'Aronco after Istanbul experience. As the co-creators of projects such as 1902 Turin International Decorative Arts Exhibition, they took their place among the pioneers of Italian Liberty style. Rigotti worked in Istanbul as a figure that stayed in the shadow of D'Aronco as an architect. For this reason, his works are not comprehensively included in the researches that focus on Italian architects worked in Ottoman lands. This paper introduces Italian architect Annibale Rigotti, who stayed in Istanbul between 1893 and 1896. His architectural activities within borders of the Ottoman Empire are analyzed based on new visual data obtained from the Rigotti family archives (Archivio Architetti Rigotti), archive documents and newspapers of the period. Within this context, a few watercolor paintings and sketches made by Rigotti during his stay in Istanbul are evaluated in this study. The paper also traces the inspiration the architect drew from Istanbul for his certain projects after returning to Turin.
- Makale