Hidden Beauties of Ankara
Ankara is a city that offers different beauties to the eyes that know how to look. One may suddenly come across with a dead end street, a spacious terrace, a fringed wall, a secluded park; which makes them smile. Most of the time they are the places that carry great stories behind them. The house of a late statesman, a garden of an old embassy, a ballroom in which “the first” of the recent history took place.
Cinnah 19 – located in Cankaya district of Ankara, on Cinnah Street – is exactly such an apartment building. It is placed in one of the most visited streets in Ankara. The street is named after the founding leader of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. This street was known as the “Vali Dr. Reşit Caddesi” (Governor Dr. Resit Street) until the 1970s. Vedat Dalokay, mayor of that period, changed the name of the street after the leader of the country after receiving an award in Pakistan with an architectural project. The street starts at Atakule and ends at Kavaklıdere Square which connects Kızılay with Çankaya. Germany, Afghanistan, Sweden, India, Hungary and former Yugoslavian embassies are among the most important buildings of the street. Nowadays, there are mostly offices. One way or another, this hilly street is a place that everybody finds themselves eventually.
Cinnah 19 is located on the lefthand side, at the relatively beginning of that famous uphill road called Cinnah Street. It stands out with a rectangular hollow brick wall in the front. The building has 17 apartments, 15 of them are two-storey. It is located perpendicular to the street and at an angle to the north and towards the landscape.
An Unexpected Visit
One evening, we watched the apartment with great admiration with two friends of mine. We went in, took the stairs up, took the stairs down. We were fascinated by the rooftop pool, which is currently in an idle position, and the garden layout.
We ranged a random doorbell and asked for permission to look inside. An elderly couple who retired from the General Directorate of State Airports welcomed and showed us their home. They proudly showed us their METU graduate son’s graduation photograph. They also shared information about the history of the apartment, with a little bit of pride. Cinnah 19 entered into our lives with that sweet moment.
A Social Apartment
Cinnah 19, or Cooperative Apartment of the Workers of General Directorate of State Airports, was built to provide housing for the engineer and architects working at the airport. It was designed by Architect Nejat Ersin and his team in 1954. The building was finished in 1957. Cinnah 19 is one of the few examples of apartments with social spaces, together with Emin Onat’s Hayat Apartment (1959), 96’lilar Apartment in Ahmetler (1956) and Fikir Iscileri Kooperatifi Apartment in Büklüm Sokak (1957). Communal areas in apartment buildings are peculiar ideas for today, considering the fact that nobody even knows their neighbors! However, in the first years of the Republic, apartments were among the symbols of modern life, and they offered spaces where residents can come together and spend time. Now, this is only the case in the luxury residences where there is a gym or a table tennis area in the basement.
It is said that Cinnah 19 was built under the influence of the famous architects of the time Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer, Lucio Cost, and Edward Durrell Stone. The apartment was built in 1927 by the Association of Architects. It is only natural that such an association should be in such a beautiful building. The Prime Minister of the period Adnan Menderes and President Celal Bayar; ordered for a legislation that prevents the building of another apartment nearby the Cinnah 19 and the Cankaya Mosque of Hayati Tabanlioglu, Unfortunately, this attempt was abolished as a result of the 1960 military intervention. Today, some of the offices in some of the apartments, with some houses in Cinnah Street continues to exist. The next time you cross Cinnah street, browse the street more carefully to see this beautiful building!
For more information about Cinnah 19, you may check out the documentary about the building.
This article cites Ali Cengizkan’s article in the journal of Architectures Association. The article is available in Turkish.
This article was previously published in ustamdan.com.
To read it in Turkish, please click here.