An arranged cluster of wooden beams stacked on assorted levels outline the Odunpazari Modern Museum. Located in Eskişehir, Anatolia’s cultural capital, the museum aims to promote Turkish art, while making a significant contribution to the culture of Eskişehir (a university city in north-west Turkey, situated between Istanbul and Ankara). Designed by Japanese architecture firm Kengo Kuma and Associates, with firm partner Yuki Ikeguchi leading the project, its architecture is best articulated as wooden, boxy masses, stacked on top of each other, and is envisioned to be a modern, iconic landmark.
Founded by art collector and businessman Erol Tabanca, who champions both Turkish and international artists, the museum has been built to house his significant collection of contemporary art. The art museum presents a dynamic programme of multi-disciplinary exhibitions and diverse public programming, by housing a 1000-piece collection of modern and contemporary art within its bright and spacious areas. Boasting of a worthy collection from the 1950s till the present day, the exhibited art decrees special focus on Turkish artists, such as Burhan Doğançay, Canan Tolon and Azade Köker among many other significant names.
The museum will also host new exhibitions, many of which will be in collaboration with top creatives and curators. It will also be a premier space for hosting seminars, talks with artists and workshops.
For its celebratory public inaugural on September 8, 2019, an attendance by important international figures including Kengo Kuma and Yuki Ikeguchi was observed. Japanese bamboo artist Tanabe Chikuunsai IV exhibited his largest-ever installation till date, inspired by Odunpazari and its inhabitants. Other works exhibited at the opening included British digital art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast’s two immersive installations – Treehugger and In the Eyes of the Animal (up until December 7, 2019).
The history and culture of Odunpazari
Odunpazari in Turkish means ‘wood market’ – the museum’s envelope rendered in timber signifies and indicates this connect and the city’s history as an old, timber-trading market. The site is situated at the brink of the old and new; Odunpazari is Eskişehir’s oldest area of settlement, and is famous for its narrow, winding streets and traditional Ottoman houses fashioned from wood, with protruding upper floors - another inspiration behind the timber design and the aesthetics of the museum. These homes came up organically, and so are not placed in lines or in grids; the design intends to bring that feeling within the museum, like meandering routes through the boxed spaces. “We aim to reflect this street scape quality into the new architectural design of the museum that stands in the urban scale,” says Yuki Ikeguchi
The idea for OMM was to use architecture to create a link between people and art. We were deeply inspired by the history, culture, people and streetscape of Odunpazari, and we wanted the building to resonate on many levels. We hope that the museum will breathe new life into Eskişehir and become a central and inviting meeting point for the city. – Kengo Kuma and Yuki Ikeguchi
The design of OMM
The museum has been divided across three floors and hosts a variety of exhibition spaces that will house the permanent collection of art. In order to shape and form diverse exhibition spaces inside the museum, in terms of scale, the boxes are stacked, interlinked and designed in different sizes.
The museum’s ground floor offers space for large scale art works and installations. As one approaches the upper levels, these boxes get smaller in size, which in turn offer space to exhibit smaller, more intimate scale of art works. The design incorporates an atrium at its centre, comprising of glass and timber, connecting every level of the museum. This central element allows natural light to fill the museum space, through a skylight directly above.
“Our design strategy is to make the volume in aggregation; stacking small boxes to create the urban scale architecture. Stacked boxes at the street level is read in the scale of surrounding houses and it grows taller towards the centre of the museum to stand in the urban scape that announces itself as new cultural landmark of the area,” says Ikeguchi.
The design by Kengo Kuma and Associates brings together geometry, light, aggregation and timber – bathed in natural light and enveloped in wood, the Odunpazari Modern Museum displays a solid geometric yet organic design. The location of the museum in Eskişehir, at the threshold of the newly-developed urban area and the small-scale townscape, makes it an unexpected and unique cultural icon, representing its past and present astutely.
Project DetailsName of the project: OMM (Odunpazari Modern Museum)
Location: Odunpazari, Eskisehir, Turkey
Site area: 16,360 sqm
Total floor area: 3,582 sqm
Year of completion: 2019
Architect: Kengo Kuma and Associates
Design team: Yuki Ikeguchi (partner in-charge), Yasemin Sahiner (project architect) Man Wai Yiu, Anteo Taro Sanada
Client: Polimeks Holdings, INC.
Structural engineer: SIGMA
Facade engineer: Ateknik Structural Design
Mechanical engineer: TEMA Engineering and Consulting Trade Ltd.
General contractor: Polimeks Holdings, INC.