The Yenikapi Project

A collaboration between the internationally renowned starchitect Peter Eisenman and the distinguished Istanbul based firm Aytac Architects has resulted in the development of one of the most ambitious, challenging, and distinctive urban proposals in the history of Istanbul. The final result went on exhibition at the Zuecca Space in Venice, leaving quite positive reactions by critics and viewers alike.

Courtesy of Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects/ Parsa Khalili

Courtesy of Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects/ Parsa Khalili

The project merges together a transportation hub, a museum, city archive and an archaeopark, and its main challenge emerges from two main elements. The first being the special archaeological anatomy of the site, which includes a historic site that goes back to the Neolithic era, a Byzantine harbor, Ottoman structures and 35 shipwrecks were discovered during the drilling of an undersea tunnel, which led to an architectural competition to figure the best implementation of the site.

Aytac architects explained the goal of the project saying “The goal of our project is to introduce a new organizational force into the city that both weaves together the in-congruent features of the existing site into a series of different urban matrix and generates an energy that flows out from the site and thus re-enlivens the major elements of the existing palimpsest of the city as a whole – its histories, archaeology, organizational and stylistic diversities.

Courtesy of Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects. Photography by Riccardo Bianchini

Courtesy of Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects. Photography by Riccardo Bianchini

The second factor is the scale the architects had to deal with, from the historic artifacts, to the sites, all the way to the urban scale that the architects had to integrate seamlessly into the multi-layered, rich, and complex city of Istanbul. Creating a proposal that fit the context, the city, and the rather post-modernist ideologies of the collaborating architects meant pushing the boundaries to create an extra-ordinary urban complex, and the result was not a failure at all.

Peter Eisenman contribution to the conceptual design of the complex is rather vivid, being a pioneer of the post modernist currents of our time, and one of the “New York Five”, a group of architects who led the post modernist movement in the mid twentieth century. The approach he took was both creative and right to the point, as he explains :”I would like the visitor to see the world outside from inside the museum like being outside and when being outside to see the inside like being inside; so thinking somehow in reverse.” … “I tried to apply the same approach to the this exhibition as well.”

Courtesy of Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects/ Parsa Khalili

Courtesy of Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects/ Parsa Khalili

Aytac Architects is an internationally renowned firm, founded in 2005 and based in Istanbul, Turkey. It has produced works that involve the use of hybrid process of analog and digital tools in the concept stage and the outcome. The office operates like a laboratory with the aim to render space and building more mobile, dynamic, active than they have previously been understood as sedentary. Its awards include 40 Under 40 Awards 2014, International Architecture Awards 2014, American Association of Landscape Architects Awards 2013, and several others.

By: Hazem Raad

Edited by: Zeynab Matar

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