December 2, 2023

The firm of famed Italian star architect Renzo Piano has recently completed a new energy-saving museum on the waterfront in Istanbul, Turkey. Featuring a complex structural system that mitigates earthquake damage, the building echoes the waterfront with a striking aluminum and glass exterior that references the city’s nautical history.

Located in the city’s historic Karaköy district, where the famous Bosphorus and Golden Horn meet, Istanbul Modern served as inspiration for the overall design – even if you might need to use some imagination to see the The high resemblance of fish scales matters.

“The building’s design, Renzo Piano’s first project in Turkey, was inspired by the shimmering waters of the Bosphorus and the light it reflects,” says the museum’s The press release explains. “The silhouette of the building echoes the history of this area that has been used as a port for thousands of years, evoking the ships of different sizes plying back and forth between Europe and Asia, and the seas leaping from the Bosphorus to the ocean. Bio. Shore. The façade is constructed from a series of 3D-formed aluminum panels that change with the changing sunlight, creating a shimmering, iridescent shell reminiscent of fish scales.”

Istanbul Modern's rooftop features a large shallow reflecting pool
Istanbul Modern’s rooftop features a large shallow reflecting pool

Jamal Emden

The design called for a transparent glass curtain wall on the ground floor, which was a challenge given the local seismic activity. Engineering specialist Arup developed a composite framing system with steel cross bracing for structural stability, allowing for glazing, and relatively thin concrete internal columns measuring 60 cm (23 in) in diameter.

It covers 10,500 square meters (113,000 square feet) and houses an extensive art collection from 1945 to the present. The ground floor houses a photo and pop-up gallery, a multipurpose room and staff offices, as well as a restaurant and a terrace with views of the Bosphorus. Meanwhile, the second floor houses permanent and temporary art galleries.

Elsewhere, there is a 156-seat auditorium for film programs and interdisciplinary events. The roof features a viewing deck and a shallow reflecting pool that covers most of the available roof space.

The 10,500-square-meter (113,000-square-foot) Istanbul Museum of Modern Art houses an extensive collection of art from 1945 to the present
The 10,500-square-meter (113,000-square-foot) Istanbul Museum of Modern Art houses an extensive collection of art from 1945 to the present

Jamal Emden

The project plans to earn LEED Gold Green Building Standards And sport triple glazed windows and solar panels that reduce its drain on the grid, as well as an energy efficient heating and cooling system.

Istanbul Modern is now officially open to the public and is part of a larger renovation underway at the Docklands that will involve the construction of a new cruise ship terminal.

source: RPBW, istanbul modern, Arup