Santralistanbul Museum of Contemporary Arts, Istanbul Building Project, Photo, Design Images

Santralistanbul Museum, Istanbul, Turkey

Santralistanbul Museum of Contemporary Arts Istanbul design by Emre Arolat / Nevzat Sayin

12 Jan 2010

Santralistanbul Museum of Contemporary Arts Istanbul

Design: Emre Arolat / Nevzat Sayin

Project Description

The first power plant of the Ottoman Empire was built at the point where the Golden Horn ends. Its construction began in 1910 and the plant was in operation until 1984. Construction continued until the last boiler room was built in 1957. After the power plant’s operation was terminated in 1984, it was left to its fate. In 2004, it was taken up by Istanbul Bilgi University as a social responsibility project.

The program, which was introduced with main headings such as education, culture, art, and recreation, proceeded in detail during subsequent stages with distinctions such as faculty buildings, studios, laboratories, museum, gallery, restaurant, concert hall, and library.

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Today, 36,000 m² of building, both old and new, have been constructed across an area of 120,000 m². Within this group of buildings now in use, the Contemporary Arts Center has a constructed area of 6,767 m².

The boiler rooms, torn down during the second half of the 1980s, presented a good opportunity for the Contemporary Arts Center which necessitated the program’s large building with its high physical potential. The only element that has been transferred form-wise from the old building to the new one was the size of the buildings.

For the conception of the buildings, the strategy that was adopted was one that forced constructive grammar and phenomenological experience into the same equation, as a channel that could free the inspiration to be drawn from the former buildings from the dichotomy that entrapped this inspiration within a maelstrom of formal analogy and formal opposition.

The main idea behind the project is based on a broad-spectrum organization of both long and short-term exhibitions. The aim was to exhibit creative products of disciplines such as architecture, graphics, art, and industrial design and to reach as wide an audience as possible.

The most important restriction we put on ourselves during the project’s development was that the size of the building should be the same as that of the building that existed there before it; neither smaller, nor larger. The design decisions that were developed following this decision can be summed up as, just as was the case with the former building, a steel structure constructed on a reinforced concrete base, and a shell structure constructed around a core building.

Now the building is reminiscent of a cloud-like tulle surface in the day and a paper lantern that shyly illumines its surroundings at night. The perforated sheet metal plates used for the façade practically evaporate the large-bulk structure. The building, which otherwise would become a heavy mass, thus looks like the ghost of the former building; the former building is both there and not.

If we take into consideration the entire campus, we can say that Santral ?stanbul is a social responsibility project aiming to set in motion the creative energies of the city. A power station which, rather than being an ivory tower closed to the outside world, draws its energy from its environment, from being “here and now.”

And it is precisely at this point that the Contemporary Arts Centeropens its façade to adjacent neighborhoods so as not to be a sterile ‘exhibition’ area isolated from its environment: As we look at the ‘things’ inside, we still feel the daylight filtering through a tulle surface and the presence of the scenery formed by the spontaneity of the informal fabric. Coming face to face with the world outside does not spoil the aura of the work of art, but “brings it into the light of day.”

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The conception of the building’s load-bearing system was also established according to the existing factory-building typology of the campus.
A reinforced concrete base forms the podium; the core, also built in reinforced concrete, rises above the base and is retracted; and a steel shell envelopes this superstructure.

The exposed concrete podium and the metal mesh-covered steel construction rising above it reflect the concept of the building as a whole.
This neutral venue which can host diverse exhibitions is obtained through the plan’s conception as well as the choice of materials.
Building elements were left uncoated to allow for variability in the layout of exhibitions.


The Contemporary Arts Centeris the building most open to the public in the campus which was treated as a social responsibility project. The building has achieved the intended results initially expected from this social responsibility project in consideration of the fact that it strongly emphasizes what we are there for and where we are; this statement is achieved through its interior spaces which can easily be reshaped depending on the character of the exhibition, the possibilities of making use of daylight, the building’s structural elements that do not overshadow the exhibition and the objects being exhibited, and the visibility of the environment from the circulation areas on each floor.
The quality of the exhibitions that are now held here and of the audiences that attend them confirms these results.

In terms of reducing costs of lighting, ventilation, and upkeep, it is a building in which environmental resources are used efficiently and successfully.

Santralistanbul Museum of Contemporary Arts – Building Information

Architectural design: Emre Arolat (EAA), Nevzat Sayin (NSMH)
Project management: Akin Barlas
Structure: Tuncel
Mechanical: Dinamik Proje
Electrical: Enkom
Client: Istanbul Bilgi Universitesi
Project date: 2004-06
Constructiont date: 2006-07
Location: Sütlüce-Istanbul, Türkiye
Site area: 120.000 sqm
Footprint area: 1,743 sqm
Total construction area: 6,767sqm
Completion: 2007

Santralistanbul Museum of Contemporary Arts Istanbul Photo Credits

Santralistanbul Museum of Contemporary Arts Istanbul Credits

Santralistanbul Museum of Contemporary Arts Istanbul images / information from Nevzat Sayin (NSMH)

Emre Arolat

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

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