US company’s project aims to revive unused Istanbul cultural center
Birce Altay – Erkan AktuğA cultural construction project for an unused arts and cultural center in central Istanbul has been announced on the website of U.S.-based company Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture.
The project, titled “Istanbul Cultural Center,” is designed as an integrated group of cultural buildings that includes an opera house, a concert hall, a theatre, and a cinema redesigned as state-of-the-art venues that will share back-of-house and public spaces, according to the company.
“The primary goal of the center was to allow residents and visitors of Istanbul maximum accessibility to world-class cultural venues and an extensive array of open and enclosed public spaces,” the press statement said.
Planned to be constructed by the company on an area encompassing Istanbul’s iconic Atatürk Cultural Center and a carpark nearby, the project won the first place among the World Architecture News (WAN) Future Project Civic Building Awards 2015. The project was selected as the winner by the WAN jury, ahead of several other projects across the world.
Located in Taksim Square in Beyoğlu, a district at the heart of Istanbul, the iconic Atatürk Cultural Center has been unused for the past eight years. The multi-story arts and cultural center has been the subject of fierce debates since 2000 and has not been used since May 16, 2008, when a final concert was performed by the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra.
In November 2007, the center was legally declared a “cultural asset,” which imposes a legal obligation to reconstruct the building to serve the same function even if it is completely demolished.
Re-construction work started in 2012 but it was halted in May 2013 amid the nascent anti-government protests in nearby Gezi Park. The protests started as a sit-in by a small group of environmental advocates in the park before millions of Turks later took to the streets in mass demonstrations that shook Turkey throughout summer 2013.
According to the statement from Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture, the revamped Istanbul Cultural Center project will include outdoor public performance venues, public gardens and lawns, public viewing platforms and amenities, four world-class performance venues, a grand entrance and public interior atria, a public courtyard connection, an art gallery, and a public linear park.