Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture / EAA – Emre Arolat Architecture
Text description provided by the architects. In 2009, Warehouse Number 5 at Karaköy Port was awarded to Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts with the aim of turning it into the Istanbul Painting and Sculpture Museum. Thus the way was opened for the public use of a space which, although located on an important site in the city center, had almost no social permeability, and for the construction of an original and quality museum housing thousands of valuable works including important pieces from late Ottoman painting to modern Turkish painting.
At Emre Arolat Architects, in the initial research phase of the design process, we studied the history of the physical and sociological characteristics of the area. In this context, the particular place that the warehouses and office buildings erected since the end of the 1950s had constituted in the visual memory was essential, beyond the identity of industrial and port territory which had distinguished it during centuries from other parts of the city. We emphasized the importance of preserving these buildings, whose characteristics of scale and structure were so important. In particular, the horizontal geometry of the reinforced concrete of the warehouse buildings, repeated in the axis of the plan, was a most noteworthy feature, and one of the main objectives of our design became to pursue it. We planned a three-dimensional grid structure in which the galleries of the new museum would be placed, largely preserving the reinforced concrete load-bearing system while removing the walls and floors.
Museologically, we expected that over time the works on display would be categorized according to changing curatorial approaches, and grouped and assigned to galleries according to how the spaces were used. Our goal was to make it possible for themes to evolve based on various such scenarios.
Instead of a classic glass-framed solution for the transparent facade that would cover the structure and protect it from the weather, we undertook an original system taking up the industrial past of the structure. The galleries, organized in such a way that some can be connected and others isolated, are linked together by new passages and bridges. Thus an environment was set up where interfaces between galleries were formed offering unexpected perspectives, while the spectators could establish unmixed relationships with the works in a sterile environment as well as relationships between the galleries and the city.
The narrow and long office structure built on the side of Meclis-i Mebusan Boulevard next to the warehouse building had serious weaknesses in its load-bearing system, as well as particularly original facades. We planned to rebuild it with a similar feeling for the memory. The three-dimensional empty space formed in this section allowed the entrance and diffusion spaces to be enriched with workshop and public use functions. By treating the ground floor with a useful strategy that was as permeable as possible, the relationship that this structure would form with the other buildings and the open spaces around it was reinforced.
It is hoped that all these structural features will help the Museum of Painting and Sculpture of Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts to form an original and fresh new center in the cultural landscape of the city.