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Istanbul Modern. Photo by Cemal EmdenIstanbul Modern. Photo by Cemal Emden
Istanbul Modern, Turkey’s first museum of modern and contemporary art, inaugurated its new museum building designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. WIT Graduate of Architecture, Ronan Dunphy was part of the design team.
The project is located on the Bosphorus waterfront with a beautiful view of the historic peninsula. A big challenge was to integrate a modern building in such a historic location. It has been unanimously praised for its connection to the surrounding built environment, park and waterfront, and offers a new meeting place for the people of Istanbul.
Across 10,500 square meters, Istanbul Modern provides space for a dynamic range of exhibitions, educational programs, film screenings, and an extensive collection showcasing over 280 works by Türkiye’s foremost exponents of modern and contemporary art from 1945 to the present day as well as internationally renowned artists, such as Yüksel Arslan, Mark Bradford, Tony Cragg, Olafur Eliasson, Gülsün Karamustafa, Anselm Kiefer, Laure Prouvost, Sarkis, Nil Yalter, Fahrelnissa Zeid, and Refik Anadol.
The building – Renzo Piano’s first project in Türkiye – was inspired by the glittering waters of the Bosphorus, echoing the history of the site that has been used as a harbor for millennia, with a transparent ground floor offering views to the waterfront promenade and façade made from 3-D-formed aluminum panels that play with the changing sunlight. A one-of-a-kind viewing terrace at the top of the building hovers above a shallow reflection pool covering the roof, providing a 360-degree view of the Bosphorus and the city.
Oya Eczacıbaşı, Chair of Istanbul Modern, said: “Renzo Piano, a prominent figure in museum architecture today, became a partner to our dream of designing a museum building that would attract the attention of international art circles and reflect the architectural values of our unique city. We first met with Renzo in September 2014 at his office in Genoa. We were delighted and encouraged that he was as excited as we were about our dreams for the future of Istanbul Modern.”
Highlighting the start of a new era for Istanbul Modern with the new museum building, Eczacıbaşı continued: “Our responsibility to both the art world and our visitors has increased with this milestone. In the coming period, our priorities in this new building are to increase the production and visibility of women artists, expand the space and content of our art education programs for children and young people, and advance our efforts to introduce our country’s art to visitors from all over the world.”
Renzo Piano, architect of the building, said: “This museum building is like a creature of the sea, that has just jumped out from the water of the Bosphorus. We wanted to make a building to defy gravity and levitate above the ground, creating transparency with views towards the sea on one side and on the other the park and the medieval district of Galata. If you build a suspended space, where there is nothing obstructing the gaze, you get one of the strong elements of the project: the multiple planes. On the ground floor, the pillars give you a sense of depth, like tree trunks in a forest. And then going up you have the first, second, third, fourth floors, and to the south you have the plane of infinity, of light, while to the north you find the park and the city. The gaze never ceases to superimpose one plane on another. This is what a city is composed of: the complexity, the sequence of buildings, streets and spaces that follow one another, creating a panorama of multiple planes.”
Full press kit available here.