Zeynep Uludağ, Gülşah Güleç
This article is based on the critical approaches developed in Atelier 1, an architectural design studio in the Gazi University Faculty of Architecture, Department of Architecture in Ankara, Turkey. The main theme of Atelier 1 Projects in the 2014–15 academic year was the ‘City as a Critical Ground’, in which the city, ground and criticism were discussed within the interdisciplinary theoretical field of architecture. Atelier 1, involving second, third and fourth year undergraduate students, reinterpreted and redesigned the urban ground of Ankara with a critical approach to reveal its unique identities and implicit values. Ground, accepted as the main critical material in the design process, was criticised not only in its physical sense, but also its social, cultural, political, economic, technological and even psychological aspects. The students were able to discover their own design methods from their criticisms of the urban ground, which also allowed them to determine their sites and programmes. In this way, Atelier 1 promoted freedom and flexibility as well as criticality in the design process, and pointed out that the relationship of architecture with city, ground and criticism should be discussed from a new theoretical perspective, primarily in the architectural design studio, as the core of architectural education. Atelier 1, as a theory‐based architectural design studio, motivated the students to develop a critical approach to the urban ground of Ankara so as to replace the rising formalism with criticism in architecture.