Ataturk Cultural Centre, Istanbul architecture, Tabanlioglu Architects, Turkey

Tabanlioglu Architects to revamp Istanbul’s 1960s Ataturk Cultural Centre

The award-winning Turkish architecture firm Tabanlioglu Architects has recently announced its plans for the reconstruction of the Ataturk Cultural Centre in Istanbul.

Originally built in the 1960s — and again in the 1970s following a fire — by Hayati Tabanlioglu (the father of the firm’s founder Murat), the cultural centre will overlook the city’s Taksim Square, and will house one of the largest opera houses in the world, as well as art galleries, libraries, cafes and restaurants.

The new centre will transform from a single unit into a large, comprehensive cultural complex: the arts and culture units articulated in the main building, which will have 2500 seats, include a large hall with natural acoustics.

Alternative and secondary features such as the smaller concert halls, theatre halls, cinemas, libraries and design shops, will be located at various levels along the street that passes through the annex; the low-rise serial buildings are connected to each other, and ultimately, to the main building via their lobbies. These capacities are also independently accessible from the street level.

Through the cascading extension with a green landscaped roof, a second entry, or a secondary piazza, will be formed in the direction of the congress valley where the Atatürk Library and Technical University are located.

“It is very gratifying to have taken over such a heritage. Beyond that, of course, we see this building to be a permanent cultural symbol for Turkey and the world. I was very excited to be invited by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism months ago to work on this project,” Murat Tabanlioglu said.

“Since the needs and functions of a cultural establishment and the building have changed over time, they have to be renewed in spatial, structural and modern terms with current solutions. It is inevitable to incorporate technical requirements and possibilities into such a structure, especially at the point of performing a very special and complex function like opera,” he added.

More transparent than the old one, the structure’s façade will be reconstructed,  enlivened by a large screen, so that the performances realised on the stage inside will simultaneously broadcast on the screen for the public. This transparency will provide a clear view of the red outer shell filling the volume of the main opera hall.

“Eventually, architecture, technology and the infrastructure needed fresh blood for the performance of opera and ballet, and the recent condition of the centre did not meet those needs… So, of course with the principle of staying true to the collective memory of the city, we kept the dimensions and its significant façade of the 60s, and conveyed the building into the 21st century,” said Tabanlioglu.