Melike Altinisik Architects’ installation 'The ECHO' makes the invisible visible

The installation by the Turkish practice is one of eleven to be displayed in the city of Istanbul as part of the Beyoglu Light Exhibition.

by Devanshi ShahPublished on : Dec 04, 2021

Istanbul's Beyoglu district has long been heralded as the centre of the city's arts scene. Recently the entire district was host to the Beyoglu Culture Road Festival, one of Turkey's biggest cultural events in terms of participants. The two-week festival was launched with the opening ceremony of the newly constructed Atatürk Cultural Center and ran from October 29 till November 14. It was held across various venues, including the large-scale urban redevelopment project in the historic passenger wharves of Karaköy quarter, Tophane-iAmire building, the Galata Tower, cultural centres, museums and even the unassuming historic Matbah Emini Hasan Aga Fountain.

The Echo is installed on the historic MatbahEmini Hasan Aga Fountain | ECHO | MelikeAltınısık Architects | STIRworld

The Echo is installed on the historic MatbahEmini Hasan Aga Fountain

Image: Mehmet Akif Sarı; Courtesy of MelikeAltinisik Architects

This centuries-old stone fountain is situated on a street corner and has an inscription on two of its facades. The historical relevance of the structure is sometimes dwarfed by the presence of the Galata Tower, a stone tower from the 14th century. The building, which was formerly used as a municipal facility, was allocated for cultural events in the early 1990s and a restoration project was commenced in 2017, and was finally opened for use in June 2020. The Matbah Emini Hasan Aga Fountain, however, has not been restored and lays abandoned.

  • The roof of the fountain has five hexagonal artefacts | ECHO | MelikeAltınısık Architects | STIRworld
    The roof of the fountain has five hexagonal artefactsImage: Mehmet Akif Sarı; Courtesy of MelikeAltinisik Architects
  • Each artefact is made up of hollow cylinders | ECHO | MelikeAltınısık Architects | STIRworld
    Each artefact is made up of hollow cylinders Image: Mehmet Akif Sarı; Courtesy of MelikeAltinisik Architects

Of the many urban interventions taking place in Istanbul, an installation by Melike Altınışık Architects (MAA) brings a spotlight on this forgotten 17th century structure. Part of the Beyoglu Light Exhibition, curated by Erdem Akan, MAA's THE ECHO is one of 11 light installations on the route of Istiklal Avenue from Gezi Park to Galataport. In the exhibition, which includes artists from disciplines such as art, design and architecture, the designers draw attention to the light, the dark, the night, the concepts such as colour and form made visible in the light, togetherness, existence, change and transformation, differences and tolerance.

  • View from the street looking up | ECHO | MelikeAltınısık Architects | STIRworld
    View from the street looking up Image: Mehmet Akif Sarı; Courtesy of MelikeAltinisik Architects
  • The artefacts possess a structural porosity | ECHO | MelikeAltınısık Architects | STIRworld
    The artefacts possess a structural porosity Image: Mehmet Akif Sarı; Courtesy of MelikeAltinisik Architects

MAA has gained international recognition for their futuristic designs all over the world, especially in Istanbul and Seoul. Most recently their design for the Istanbul TV and Radio Tower garnered global recognition for its unique form and modulating massing. In this installation, MAA establishes a unique dialogue with the city and its citizens by making the invisible visible. The installation is THE ECHO of the historical Matbah Emini Hasan Ağa Fountain, and perhaps references both meanings of an echo. As a reflection of waves and as a parallel idea reminiscent of the structure's purpose.

The installation is part of the Beyoglu Light Exhibition, curated by Erdem Akan | ECHO | MelikeAltınısık Architects | STIRworld
The installation is part of the Beyoglu Light Exhibition, curated by Erdem Akan Image: Mehmet Akif Sarı; Courtesy of MelikeAltinisik Architects

Located at the corner of Luleci Hendek Street connecting Yuksek Kaldirim Street and Fircaci Street, the corner has been an important juncture where different cultures have met throughout the history of Istanbul and captures the contemporary debate on cosmopolitanism. Abandonedand forgotten, the structure has been a witness to many encounters and transformation of the city. MAA's interventions may not seem very invasive but its very presence spotlights a neglected urban artefact.

MAA's artefact juxtaposed with the Galata Tower | ECHO | MelikeAltınısık Architects | STIRworld
MAA's artefact juxtaposed with the Galata Tower Image: Mehmet Akif Sarı; Courtesy of MelikeAltinisik Architects

The installation consists of five hexagonal artefacts attached to the roof of the fountain, two of these cantilevered over the edge. A sixth piece can be found on the ground along the longer edge. Each of these artefacts is made up of cylindrical tubes that resemble plumbing tubes, set up to form a regular hexagon in plan. When viewed as a mass, the artefacts have a conical form that tapers in the centre along both planes of the hexagon. The hollow cylinders are sculpted to create a smooth contouring.

The cylinders are set up to form a regular hexagon in plan | ECHO | MelikeAltınısık Architects | STIRworld
The cylinders are set up to form a regular hexagon in plan Image: Mehmet Akif Sarı; Courtesy of MelikeAltinisik Architects

Behind the stone fountain, one can see graffiti, while one wall features a graphical representation of MAA's artefacts. The white surface and materiality of the installation allows it to refract the light that is cast on it. The objects themselves do not incorporate lighting design within their form but rather are a part of a larger urban conversation.

The installation at night | ECHO | MelikeAltınısık Architects | STIRworld
The installation at night Image: Mehmet Akif Sarı; Courtesy of MelikeAltinisik Architects

Project Details

Name: THE ECHO
Design: MelikeAltınışık Architects-MAA, MAALab
Project Team:MelikeAltınışık, BengüÖzmutlu
Assistant Team:AtakanGündüz, GülnurAktaş
Fabrication: City of Angels–COA, MelihAltınışık
Lighting Consultant: Line Lighting Design
Exhibition:Beyoğlu Light Exhibition
Curator:Erdem Akan

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