At a ground-breaking ceremony in February, Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the New Istanbul Cultural Center and Opera House would open within two years. The original project when unveiled in 2017, was given a projected opening date of 2019, but this has now been extended to 2021.
With an expected project deadline of 20 months, the building will put Istanbul on the map of famous opera cities. Over the last decade, Turkey has been a mission to open more cultural centres across the country, increasing the figure from 42 to 115.
Projected costs of the building amount to 850 million Turkish lira, and at 95,000 square meters will be five times larger than the earlier AKM building that closed in 2008 and was demolished in 2018.
Five dedicated sections will each have a specific purpose including the opera house, conference hall, exhibition theatre, library, museums, art gallery, cafes, and a movie theatre.
The unique landscaped roofs will also include a restaurant with views overlooking the Bosphorus while a large HD screen will screen performances to visitors in the public square.
Overlooking the famous Taksim square, when details of the new cultural center were published in 2017, there was much opposition by some who said the original AKM building was an iconic architectural landmark.
Yet others argued its exterior appearance was a blight on the landscape and new building was much needed because even though Istanbul is Turkey’s biggest and most prominent city, it only has one opera house, which is a small building on the Asian side.
Tabanlioglu Architects team designed the cultural centre, with an aim to provide artists with all the space, facilities, and technology to perform to mass audiences.
Emphasising its strategic location in the heart of “new Istanbul,” the exterior appearance was also designed to become a recognisable urban landmark through its bright red sphere.
The Tabanlioglu team also designed the first Ataturk Cultural Center, that opened in the 1960s, but with this version, they say the building will put Turkey on the global map for opera performances. Murat Tabanlioglu also emphasises that in the past, only the elite members of society could enjoy opera, but the building will be a place where everyone can go.
The New Istanbul Cultural Center is just one of many changes taking place in the city, to modernise the urban infrastructure and put it on the map against another leading metropolis like New York, Paris, Rome, and Milan.
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(Infographic by Anadolu Agency)