The Meeting Point of the World; these are the words used to describe Istanbul during the recorded advertisement that plays on Turkish Airlines, and it could not be more true. Istanbul is literary and metaphorically the city where the two significantly different worlds of the East and the West collide. Geographically it is at the border of Europe, where a narrow waterway separates the Green Continent from the Middle East. It has a foot on each side, neither here nor there and somehow on both sides at the same time. This unique geographical characteristic has also made Istanbul the place of civilization contact and exchange of ideas. This richness of ideas from around the world manifests itself in every aspect of life in Istanbul, more so in architecture.
In the short following text, we have selected only five of Istanbul’s significant architectural endeavors that best introduce the spirit of this clashing point of the world.
Arter Contemporary Art Museum
Grimshaw studio was founded in 1980 and now operates worldwide. The company’s practice is founded on strong conceptual innovation and acute attention to detail, all reinforced by the principles of humane and sustainable design.
In Istanbul Grimshaw Architects designed the Arter Contemporry Art Museum as an addition to the Vehbi Koç Foundation Arter Contemporary that was founded in 2010. It is a sustainable, vibrant cultural hub, offering a broad range of programmes accessible to everyone.
In this new building Arter boasts 18,000 square metres of indoor area and has spaces dedicated to exhibitions, performances, learning centers, a library, an arts bookstore, and a café.
Selected through a competition Grimshaw Architects have designed Arter in a way that is offers a broad range of spatial and artistic experiences to its audience in a versatile building that brings together different disciplines of art and facilitates creativity. This design manages to draw people in and allows for a dynamic and multidisciplinary approach to the arts.
Emre Arolat Architecture was founded in 2004 and is now one of the most significant and most active architectural firms of Turkey. Their designs tackle a wide range of disciplines from urban plans to airports, residences, cultural buildings, and workplaces bringing them the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
Designed by EAA is Santraistanbul, another art and culture center that is our choice of unique architecture’s in Istanbul. Located in Emniyettepe district of the city, this building was originally the Ottoman Empire’s first urban-scale power plant. Its refunctioning as an art institution is a venture similar to Tate in London. Formerly the Silahtarağa Power Plant and now Santraistanbul is an international platform for arts, culture, and learning, inspired by a comprehensive, multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary vision that promotes urban regeneration of the design.
While facilitating the exhibition of contemporary art in a uniquely rough context and with exceptional lighting, the design also preserves the original industrial spirit of the power plant.
Besitas Fish Market
Gokhan Avcioglu & GAD
GAD Architects have been producing dynamic, innovative concepts for projects ranging from small private homes to extensive urban master plans in Turkey for over twenty-five years. They take an unconventional approach to creating projects that push the boundaries of architectural thinking.
One of the most underrated designs of GAD is the Besiktas Fish Market. The triangular site is an iconic venue where many locals and visitors buy fresh fish daily. The poor shape of the original structure and making a touristic site out of a traditional market was enough to design a reconstruction for this alluring place.
The design maintains the spirit of the iconic neighborhood and seeks to enhance its hospitable feeling. GAD’s design solution was a triangular shaped concrete roof covering the entire site with large openings at street level. The concrete dangling shell provides a floating ceiling and an interior space free of columns, thus bringing a contemporary and pragmatic solution.
NAYA Concept Store
Through an iterative, concept-driven approach, MAS architects engage in a broad range of design endeavors; projects of various scales and media, ranging from custom-made furniture to large-scale urban transformations. They seek to explore new spatial potentials with an open design process led by the specific needs and desires of each project.
As a concept store based in Istanbul, NAYA Studio designed by MAS echoes authenticity and tranquility using naturality, rawness and simplicity. It is a place to showcase handicrafts, ceramics, one-of-a-kind art pieces and custom design objects, for guests to experience the rhythm and sentiment that NAYA embodies, away from a conventional retail experience.
To respond to a diverse array of products and events, the design has allowed flexibility and multifunctionality to infuse into the arrangement of the spaces. The progression of the historic building from the busy street to the garden is designed smoothly to preserve the unity of the space and enhance the visitor’s personal experience. True to NAYA’s brand identity. Moreover to create a multi-sensory experience, the materials and colors induce the senses of smell and touch as well as vision.
Beyazit State Library
The practice of Tabanlioglu Architects focuses on the matters of building in global terms; meaning they evaluate and design the buildings based on the context and its location. Every context offers special characteristics and challenges that require specific solutions. They try to introduce more transparent spaces in the urban context, aiming to motivate an interactive social mood. They play with architecture’s potential in transitivity and synergy to encourage environmental transformation.
The restoration of Beyazıt State Library is one noteworthy venture of their firm. This exemplary owes its success to the minimal intervention approach taken up by the architects.
Founded in 1884 this center is the oldest and the largest library in Istanbul, located in Beyazıt Square and connected to the main pole of the historical part of the city. With its outstanding multi-domed roof, the restoration of the State Library in such an old fabric is a daunting task. Replacing the former concrete roof with a transparent membrane structure covers the courtyard the design manages to defuse the daylight and provide a serene and controlled atmosphere where the uniquely designed black glass boxes -where the manuscripts are showcased- become a monolith in contrast to their surroundings.
With a new entrance through the courtyard, the restored building was reintroduced with a new layout. An extension has been added to the northeast façade of the existing Library but very aware not to affect the main building aesthetically.