The Arter Museum of Contemporary Arts presents a vibrant piece of architecture to the city of Istanbul in Turkey. It has been designed by architectural firm Grimshaw, which has offices worldwide, and won this design competition back in 2012. Following the win, a multi-disciplinary team addressed the scale, complexity and aspiration of the design and building process, in collaboration with Istanbul’s Turgut Alton Architects and other local consultants, specialists and contractors to build the representative of art and culture to the people of Istanbul.
The building’s exterior offers a unique impression. The part of the building that houses the exhibition galleries has been articulated through subtle chamfering of the façade, adding plasticity to the otherwise blank façades typical of gallery building typology. Three-dimensional convex and concave rhomboid-shaped panels create a dramatic and inviting envelope, and reflect the sun as it moves across the museum throughout the day. The design creates a rich palette of changing light and shadow that animates the building in an exciting and dynamic way, providing an engaging and contemporary reinterpretation of Istanbul’s historic mosaic façade.
An addition to Turkey’s philanthropic Vehbi Koç Foundation, the Arter Contemporary Art Museum is a vibrant cultural hub that brings together artists and audiences to celebrate contemporary art in all its forms and disciplines. Conceived as a dynamic multi-layered, interdisciplinary public building for showcasing artistic works, it offers a rich cultural programme to stimulate and challenge its audience.
Articulating Vehbi Koç’s vision for social responsibility, the design hinges around spaces designed to promote access for everyone, both within and around the museum. Derived from concepts of transparency and fluidity, inspiring and adaptive public spaces were the core of the design of the building. Strategically positioned large picture windows have been used as a way of opening the building to the street and to connect the gallery to the street, and thus the city. This chain of thought offers a strong link between the city of Istanbul, the museum and its art, while still fulfilling the functional requirements of gallery spaces.
An important aspect of the museum’s connect with its context is the triple height entrance gallery, which generates a physical public route through the centre of the museum, connecting Dolapdere street with the park to the rear, making the building effectively face both sides, making it accessible and welcoming to all. This almost-public-yet-private internal street negotiates the steep level change across the site and is the main organising element of the building that makes the people accept it more as a public building.
Below the ground level, two performance halls accommodate programmes of film and performing arts, as well as conferences and panel discussions. The Sevgi Gönül Auditorium’s telescopic seating system incorporates 168 people, while the ‘black box’ Karbon theatre has a flexible seating structure for up to 332 people. The library has been designed to offer a space for research, while retail and catering facilities provide relief and relaxation. The tiled concave and convex façade, created with ceramic pearlescent tiles, helps the modular variation from solid to perforated as the façade moves from solid to open. The project’s immersive black box space is the largest in Turkey for the projection of art, dance and performance.
The Arter Contemporary Art Museum’s galleries range in scale and volume, with interlocking double height spaces that are created to offer a multitude of flexible configurations and capacities to cater to its diverse artistic programmes. Framed views and connectivity between exhibition areas provide natural way-finding and orientation. Learning spaces overlook each of the main galleries, allowing discovery and interpretation programmes. All the spaces in the interiors have been intricately designed with varied heights that straddle to reach the outer edge of the building and define the punctuated windows that give a unique expression to the façade.
Name: Arter Contemporary Art Museum
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Architect: Grimshaw Architects
Project size: 18000 sqm
Completion date: 2019