Searching for an answer to the question of “how to handle the architecture of the 60s”- especially those having complex functions like opera, dealing with contemporary art, architecture, and urban understanding simultaneously, the new Ataturk Cultural Center project takes special care to preserve the aesthetic, physical and social values inherited from its predecessor projects. Considering its unique place in the memory of the city and for citizens individually, it would not have been possible to develop the Ataturk Cultural Center as a brand-new project. However, even if the project were considered as a re-construction, updating would still be inevitable. Besides technical infrastructure and space approach meeting the contemporary needs, the new cultural structure had to be gained in a way that would respond to various common goals, leaving behind the elitist and closed attitude of the 20th century, contrarily, prioritizing the idea of being open to everyone with an understanding that “the city and the citizen go through”. Taking the advantage of contemporary developments, we have approached the project in accordance with the actual culture-performance needs as well as benefiting new production opportunities. Like all structures that perform such complex functions, the main issue for an opera house is the complex stage systems and interspace relations behind the seen. While the most important characteristic to be captured is natural acoustics and comfortable viewing angles in the hall, which the audience experience, however, if those complex and vital systems, feeding the gigantic system behind the stage, do not work correctly and precisely, performances cannot be realized. Determining the border of the Taksim Square- hosting the most intense urban movement of Istanbul and Turkey - as the previous AKM building did, the new project adds a new route into daily and cultural life; in the direction of Gezi Park, the axis is formed by the combination of arts and culture units articulated to the main building, constituting integrity with the main structure, the Opera House. With reference to the mass scale, proportions, and facade design of the previous AKM, the main Opera House is developed within the height limits of the former building, with additional structures situated efficiently ensuring the conditions for the relevant functions and intensive public use. The cultural center, designed as a 21st-century cultural structure with the idea of reviving Taksim Square, evolves into two joint fragments. The first is the main opera stage, which is located in lieu of the former Ataturk Cultural Center and preserves its symbolic and urban memory. The second component is the new structure that is articulated along Mete Street and extends towards Ataturk Library and Istanbul Technical University forming a culture lane, which brings together the social, artistic, and cultural performance units and secondary functions that will stimulate the urban flow. Compared to the 20th century, in this 21st century, from software for the design process to engineering solutions, we have wider opportunities, besides its capacity and quality; Ataturk Cultural Center is a design that is at peace with the environment and society, and with its new configuration, the public structure creates a space and urban background that is heavily used by wide circles, besides for the artists and regular audience. Open to the broad connotations, it is clear that the establishment of the new cultural center, the structure housing the main hall and the complex altogether, will be a case study for professionals of various disciplines, from architecture to urban planning, from restoration to philosophy, from art history to sociology.
With its long family tradition since 1950’s, Tabanlıoğlu Architects is established in 1990 by Murat Tabanlıoğlu and Dr. Hayati Tabanlıoğlu. Melkan Gürsel joined the group as a partner in 1995. Istanbul-based firm, with offices in Dubai, Doha, and New York, demonstrates professionalism based on rigor and know-how and searching for new efficiencies in terms of global and environmental needs and developments. Winner of international awards like RIBA International, the practice is currently engaged in major assignments worldwide. TA_ is keen on developing innovative, yet efficient and economically viable design alternatives, placing particular emphasis on the uniqueness of place, functionality, and public space, in order to meet the challenges of a modern society undergoing immense change, and for people to come together in new ways.
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