Building stadiums in Turkey… with a Spanish touch?

It’s hard to imagine a two-year-old child pronouncing words like “interstitial“, “balance“, or “assembly” correctly. This is just to name three of the most recurring concepts in the language of architects. Of course there are other more complex concepts, such as “materiality” or “cartesian”. But you can get the image when it is Cem Saydam who tells you about the story. Because that two-year-old boy from Turkey has now become a first-year Architecture student at CEU Valencia.

-I knew that I wanted to be an architect ever since I started talking.

That will make a great headline Cem, but you need to understand that we want to know a little more about the story behind it…

It is actually quite simple. My parents are architects, and I have brothers, uncles, cousins who are either architects or engineers. Some of the best memories of my childhood have to do with the visits I made with my father to the buildings he was building.

What do you know about Spanish architecture?

My mother’s favorite architect is Antonio Gaudí. Mine too. We have been to Barcelona many times and we have visited his works there. In general, and in comparison with my country’s architecture, what attracts me most about the Spanish style is its taste for aesthetics. Perhaps it is due to the fact that in Turkey there is a much more functional approach to architecture. Here you can design a building following the same process but I have the impression that here you are always a step closer to aesthetics, the most creative and artistic part of architecture.

Tell us about a project you would like to work on in the future…

I love large constructions. As a football fan I am thinking, for example, of a great stadium which can host matches of my country’s Football League.

A stadium with a large roof allowing the chants of the fans to sound even louder, and above all with a fast and safe entrance and exit system for the crowd.

Do you see also differences in that aspect between Spain and Turkey?

I recently went to Mestalla Stadium here in Valencia. I attended a match between Valencia Football Club and FC Barcelona. It was a fantastic experience and I knew then that I wanted to live here. Going back to my projects and to the architecture, what surprised me the most was how the access to the stadium itself worked. How fast and smooth it was for so many people to enter and leave the facility. It is not the same with stadiums in my country so I think that yes, I will definitely try to find better solutions to this issue…

In your opinion, which are the major challenges Architecture will be facing in the following years?

Architecture in general is going to change a lot globally, I don’t know if it will even look similar to the architecture of let’s say the last century. In my country I see that change happening at a slower pace, I think it will remain on a more functional side. I would like to dive into the most creative and aesthetic side of Spanish architecture here, and be able to apply it to my country when I return as an architect. I like to think that in a few years I will contribute in some way to make that global change get to my country faster.

That is a huge responsibility! You will have to work hard in class…

No problem at all. The teachers are just fantastic. Not only do they assist you in a very personalized way in class, they also give you a hand if you need anything outside class hours. They try to help you organize your schedule, and they are tremendously accessible. I’m delighted with all of them, really.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Cem. Oh, by the way, Valencia and Barça tied that game. Just in case you need to choose a football team to support…

I’m a Valencia fan, no doubt!


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