Renovation of existing structures
Located at Istanbul’s historical peninsula, a vibrant space in the old city, a part of the Beyazit Complex (Kulliyah) spatially defining the historic Beyazıt Square, dating back to the 16th Century (1506), Beyazit Library, founded as the "Kütüphane-i Umumi-i Osmani" in 1884, is the first state library in Turkey.
One of the oldest and the largest libraries in Istanbul, Beyazıt State Library was in a derelict condition with 25.000 rare books and manuscripts a part of the collection.
Updating and fine-tuning of the Library involved the sensitive re-organisation of the interior and careful restoration of the building fabric with its prominent multi-domed roof.
Reorganization of the library introduced a public flow from the square to the backyard through spaces devoted to display of books and reading rooms around the courtyard covered by light and transparent inflatable membrane structure.
‘Minimal intervention’ approach ensures the spirit of the place - originally the soup kitchen and inn of the complex - survives while modern facilities are grafted onto the historic fabric, moreover, includes a layer of our time respecting -even aggrandizing- the values of the past through the complex, as the city of Istanbul is made up of layers throughout its 10000 years urban history, amalgamated in harmony.
Interventions relate to the existing structure in volumetric, programmatic and material scopes. Programmatically, complex is introduced with a new layout. Entrance is now through the courtyard. Lifecycle of the project is considered as well as physical materials and construction techniques.
Spacious reading rooms and displays are designed to be modular so easily updatable, transporting the heritage to future.
Lightweight structure now covering the courtyard, and the transparent black boxes devoted to rare books and manuscripts, providing optimum preservation conditions, state the contemporary design approach.
The renovation of the library is anticipated to be effective by means of reviving cultural heritage, resources of region, starting with the protection of the rare book collection. In the renovated shell of the building, the black glass boxes are devoted to the manuscripts and rare books; each stand as a monolithic object of awe that are of a stark contrast to their surroundings while reflecting the stone walls of centuries ago, mirroring and absorbing the surrounding historical qualities. The collection is kept in air conditioned transparent cabins exclusively designed to fit in the intense atmosphere while preserving the legacy, so a museum-library function is developed for both viewers and researchers.
And simultaneously, welcoming daily users in the serene reading room, in a historic, delightful, ambient atmosphere full of almost mystical daylight. Lighting Design echoes the spatial and historical qualities of the complex, introducing geometries in harmony with its surroundings, while the soft lighting at the edges of the raised floor, that follows the wall contours introduce another layer of depth to the spaces.
The soft lighting following the wall contours of the raised floor, which hides the technical and electrical requirements, introduces another layer of depth to the spaces.
During the construction works, the remains of a Byzantine basilica were revealed. These have been preserved and can now be enjoyed through a glass roof – a gesture that highlights the respect to ancient spirit of the historical building.
As the building is a piece of history, the existing space/texture has been the framework for the renovation implementing the infrastructural and technological needs with minimal touch to the original.
Placing a contemporary library within the historic building, and injecting the right dose of contemporary functional integration to the Library and historically charged Beyazit Square, the project aimed further environmental betterment of the whole complex and of the Beyazıt Public Square that is charged with the echoes of the intelligentsia gathering in the neighborhoods for many decades.
Adjacent old-booksellers bazaar which is still vibrant; the main campus of Istanbul University; and the front façade of the library backs the monumental plane tree under which is the traditional open air coffee shop serving since the Ottoman times, Küllük Kahvesi, that has been a shelter for book lovers, literary and artistic personalities and students, and still a genuine meeting point where literary and cultural personalities ensemble.
A part of literary connections, now also surrounded by the Foundation of Calligraphy now uses the madrasah to the west of the mosque as a museum. The hammam is some distance further west next to the Istanbul University Department of Literature. The square houses the flow of daily public life and the stone walls of the complex keeps this flow at the bay, offering a place of solitude, well suited to its function.
The Library maintains a factual contact with the Beyazit Square, as an extension of the city life, so the renovation leads to intense public use.
ClientRepublic of Turkey, Ministry of Culture and Tourism & Aydin Dogan Foundation
Gross Floor Area (mq)2925
ArchitectsMelkan Gürsel & Murat Tabanlioglu
Design teamHande Pusat, Derya Genç, Irem Çatay, Kıvanç Cucur, Nazlı Tınaztepe, Deniz Manisalı
ConsultantsBudowa, CE Engineering, GN Engineering, HB Teknik, Studio Dinnebier
Photo CreditsEmre Dörter
With its long family tradition since 1950’s, spanning over six decades, Tabanlıoğlu Architects is established in 1990 by Murat Tabanlıoğlu (RIBA, Chartered Member, Int'l. Assoc. AIA,) and Dr. Hayati Tabanlıoğlu. Melkan Gürsel (AIA Int.) joined the group as a partner in 1995. Istanbul-based architectural firm demonstrates a professionalism based on rigor and know-how, and searching for new efficiencies in terms of global and environmental needs and developments, the practice is currently engaged in major assignments worldwide, having offices in Dubai, Doha, London and New York with 200 employees. Operating mainly in Turkey, MENASA and CIS Countries, winner of international awards like RIBA International, Tabanlıoğlu works comprise wide range of building types. Respecting resources and existing values, office aims high to benefit new technologies, envisioning needs of people of our era of novelties and rapid changes.