Beyazit Square Intervention

Istanbul, Turkey.

The Meydan project is part of a six year long study of politically charged public spaces in Istanbul sponsored by the Aga Khan Foundation. This Studio in specific joined architectural and urban scales in order to propose a permanent solution to Beyazit Square, a very important historical and commercial landmark in the city centre that has been neglected by a series of unfinished interventions. Site considerations take a remarkable part in the project due to its proximity to the Beyazit Mosque complex, Istanbul University and the Grand Bazaar.

Considering present political factors as the recent Arab Spring explosion and the Gezi Park popular demonstrations, the proposal aims to make the historical and social layering of the place apparent to the citizens. It does so by facilitating the overlapping of the outer public sphere and underground specific cultural uses. Both worlds relate to each other through two “hollow houses” that mark the main entrances, and a series of courtyards that encourage visual connections and reveal historic layouts of the place.

On the upper level, the variety of public spaces and the robust finishing materials deal with a range of uses from small casual gatherings on rainy days, to flee markets, open air concerts or great public concentrations. The proposal includes details such as pavings, vegetation and urban furnishing. The underground level connects the main campus of Istanbul University with a series of surrounding museums and cultural institutions. I also hosts some other uses as a public library, lecture halls and cafeteria.