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Aslı Çiçek The Undecided Plane

The Temple Talks series 2017-18 concludes with a lecture by architect Aslı Çiçek (°1978, Istanbul, TR), which will take place in a scenography especially conceived for the occasion, and as the physical manifestation of some of the lecture’s core ideas.

Ever since Aslı Çiçek’s childhood visits to the museum of Topkapı Palace, where she encountered drawings from the Irakeyn (the chronicle of the Sultan Suleiman’s expeditions to the Middle East, drawn by Matrakçı Nasuh), she has held a fascination with miniature drawings: forms of representation that originate from the 2nd Century BC in Egypt and which are typical of Oriental traditions. Later, they also appeared in illustrated manuscripts and bibles across Europe. In these drawings, different times, perspectives, pieces of buildings are woven together on a generic – or undecided – plane. There is no concern with light, proportion or reality, but rather with an emphasis on composition, symbolism and imagination.

Though miniatures have never served as models for Çiçek’s practice as a designer in the field of architecture, the notion of complexity reached by simplicity has inspired a certain approach and way of thinking about her work. The loose composition of symbols on the undecided plane reminded Çiçek of Barthes’ understanding of the ‘writerly’ text, which values the work done by the active reader in completing the text. The drawings tell stories, almost like the different sequences of a film concentrated in one image, prompting the viewer to make their own narrative. In her three-dimensional spatial compositions, Çiçek applies a similar logic by making them readable from all sides. Like the miniatures, Çiçek’s design and architectural compositions are systematically organized on an undecided plane, allowing free movement to arise inside – this approach offers the comfort and calmness to engage with the loaded (formally and historically) realm of architecture.


Aslı Çiçek (°1978, Istanbul, TR) studied in the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and obtained her master degree from architecture and design department in 2004. During and after her studies she worked at Allmann Sattler Wappner Architekten (Munich), Dietrich Untertrifaller (Vienna) and Ooze Architects (Rotterdam). In 2005 she settled in Belgium to work for Elia Zenghelis and Eleni Gigantes between 2005 and 2007. She has been a project architect at Robbrecht en Daem architects from 2007 to 2014 before she started up her practice, focusing on exhibition architecture.

Since 2009 she has been a tutor in several design ateliers and currently runs the master diploma studio Narrative Space and Materiality at KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture, Campus Sint Lucas Brussels. She has published various articles on architecture and art and was the co-editor of the 11th Flemish Architectural Review. Since 2017 she is part of the editorial board of Oase Journal for Architecture and advisory committee for architecture at Stimuleringsfonds/ Creative Industries, Rotterdam.

She lives and works in Brussels.