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Istanbul | The Yenikapi Project

Place: Istanbul, Country: Turkey
Architectural Design: Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects
Exhibition Design: Peter Eisenman
Text by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit
Photos by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit
Additional images Courtesy Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects

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Peter Eisenman and the curator Maurizio Bortolotti at the exhibition opening

The Yenikapi Project, Istanbul

This article was prepared on the occasion of the Yenikapi Project exhibition, held at the Zuecca Space in Venice on 5 June 2014. We attended at the exhibition opening and met Peter Eisenman, which is the author of the Yenikapi project, together with Aytac architects from Turkey, and also designed the exhibition layout.

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Aerial view of building A of the museum complex and Transit plaza facing North-East. Marmaray Station is on the right. Image by Parsa Khalili. Courtesy Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects

The Project

The Yenikapi project originates from an exceptional archaeological finding. In 2004, during the construction of an undersea tunnel planned to connect the Asian and the European sides of Istanbul, an outstanding archaeological site emerged from the mud. Remains dating back to the Neolithic age, a Byzantine harbour, Ottoman structures and 35 shipwrecks were discovered. An International architecture competition was organized in 2012 so to identify a proper design for the entire site. Eventually, the proposal by Peter Eisenman and Aytac architects was selected as the winner. The project is rather complex, it deals with the site at different scales, the urban scale, the site scale and the architectural scale, and includes an archeo-park, a public transport transfer point and a large archaeological museum.

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Top: scale model of the project Down left: Aerial view at the sunset of Yenikapy, toward West. The stone pier from Theodosian Era will be preserved and exhibited in the square. Image by Moka-studio. Courtesy Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects. Down right: View of the gallery of the wrecks, Building B of the museum, facing North towards the Archaeopark. Image by Parsa Khalili. Courtesy Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects.

The project is based on a careful analysis of the context “palimpsest” intended as a composite structure of overlapped urban, social and historical layers, that led to the identification of two grid systems, reciprocally rotated, on which Eisenman built up an articulated and fascinating reference framework.

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Two site analysis sketches by Peter Eisenman

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Top left: View of the Yenikapy Transfer Point and the archeological park Courtesy Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects. Top right: a study paper maquette of the project. Bottom: the ground floor plan of the Museum building A.

An interesting aspect of the design is the capability to deal with very different scales, from the archaeological artefacts housed inside the museum galleries up to the urban scale and even further on.
We asked Peter Eisenman his idea of what a visitor should perceive of such different horizons from the inside of the museum, and how he imagined this system of perceptions.

Peter Eisenman: “That’s a very interesting question. I would like the visitor to see the world outside from inside the museum like being outside and when being outside to see the inside like being inside; so thinking somehow in reverse.” … “I tried to apply the same approach to the this exhibition as well”

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View of the gallery of the wrecks, Building B of the museum, facing North towards the Archaeopark. Image by Parsa Khalili. Courtesy Eisenman Architects and Aytac Architects

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The exhibition

The exhibition indeed is conceived to represent the project by following a similar logic, at a much smaller scale. Eisenman re-proposes the same rotated patterns he applied to the Yenikapi project and created virtual and real “openings” in the rooms, for example by introducing a vertical slot intended to conceptually break the building envelope or by placing a video-projection depicting the Bosphorus exactly opposed to the entrance door, that overlooks the Giudecca canal, thus creating an ideal link between Istanbul and Venice.

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Zuecca Project Space
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The Zuecca Project Space in Venice, opened in 2011, is a space dedicated to the production of cultural projects, housed in the Zitelle Palladian complex


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