Firm offers Taksim Square culture hall
ISTANBULU.S.-based architecture firm has presented a project to the Turkish Tourism Ministry for the Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM), a contested arts and culture venue located at the heart of Istanbul’s Taksim Square, daily Habertürk reported May 2.
In the project, presented to the ministry by U.S.-based Perkins Will, the construction of a theater and opera salon with a capacity of 2000 people was proposed, in addition to another theater salon with a capacity of 800 people and cinema halls. The plan, which was reportedly being considered by the ministry, also suggested building rooftop cafeterias, restaurants, gardens and lounges.
The project was not the first proposal for the AKM, the future of which was still undetermined with government officials voicing their intentions for the venue without revealing a concrete project yet. Another AKM project was announced in March on the website of U.S.-based Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture with the title “Istanbul Cultural Center.” Planned to be constructed by the company on an area encompassing the AKM and a nearby carpark, the project won first place at the World Architecture News (WAN) Future Project Civic Building Awards 2015.
Located in Taksim Square, the AKM has sat unused for the past eight years. The center, which is one of the focal buildings representing republican-era Turkish architecture, has been at the heart of a heated debate since government officials announced intentions to demolish or renew it.
“It should be an aim for all of us to beautify Istanbul’s squares and preserve the buildings in those areas, including the Atatürk Cultural Center. We should make the assessment of this by handling it all together, with our people of culture and all friends who know the history of Istanbul and who love Istanbul, without laying it on an ideological ground,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had said about the venue. Culture and Tourism Minister Mahir Ünal recently said he was “always open” to listening to suggestions for the future of the AKM. “I am against turning arts and culture-related issues into fields of tension. I made a statement that ‘Turkey has a strong opera tradition.’ A small-scaled discussion began on ‘whether there was an opera tradition in Turkey.’ How nice. Or we can discuss another debate related to our arts and culture world. But let us not turn this into a tension line, a fault line,” said Ünal, adding there were “tension lines” formed over the AKM and the Turkish National Commission for the Seismology and Physics of the Earth (TUSAK) and that he did not want to “tackle on these lines.”