Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, was the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. The Bosphorus straits divides the city into a part that sits on the European continent, and a larger part on the continent of Asia. The militarily and economically strategic position of the city, on the western portion of the Silk Road, and on the shipping route between the Aegean and Black Seas, has kept it cosmopolitan and prosperous since its foundation 660 BCE, when it was called Byzantium. In 330 it became Constantinople, the capital of the Roman Empire, named for Emperor Constantine the Great. The Ottomans conquered the city in 1453/857 AH and renamed the city Istanbul. It served as their capital until Ankara became the capital of the modern nation of Turkey.
This project has taken a historic building on the famous Istiklal Caddesi and inserted a modern core to provide a multi-purpose cultural centre. The historic shell has been restored, while the contemporary box at its heart comprises a lightweight steel dia-grid frame of V columns supporting open-plan floors, including two storeys of exhibition space, double-height concert halls, rehearsal rooms, a cafe and roof terrace. Many art works are integral to the building, including LEDs illuminating the V columns. While preserving Istanbul’s architectural heritage, the project also aims to symbolise the city’s artistic renaissance in a playful tension between past and present.