Earlier this week, Istanbul Modern’s Young Architects Programme (YAP) unveiled an incredible new work by its 2014–15 finalists. The setting up of the temporary structure ‘All That is Solid’ was finished on Wednesday – and it was worth the wait. The installation is wonderfully bright, colourful, majestic, a delight for geometry lovers – and holds an important message.
PATTU, an architectural duo made up of Cem Kozar and Işıl Ünal, designed the installation, with Metal Yapı provided the engineering and construction support. PATTU beat four other finalists for their design, which borrowed geometric patterns from buildings that once stood where Istanbul Modern now stands, including a clock tower, a car factory and warehouses, and then reassembled them in a disordered way. Kozar and Ünal were inspired by the industrial history of the area and say that their installation is both a reminder of the past and a statement about the future: ‘How solid are buildings? The fact that they are made of stone, cement and marble does not really make them last forever. They can easily be gone in a day. We borrowed part of the famous quote "All that is solid melts into air" [said by Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto] to show the ephemeral side of architecture. The design borrows geometries from past buildings that once stood in the area and crunches them together in a chaotic way. But this chaos starts making sense over the course of a day as the transparent shapes become opaque. Past geometries become visible and invisible.’
Istanbul Modern initiated the YAP in 2012 in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and MoMA PS1 (where the project began in 1998). It is held every second summer and offers young, emerging architects the opportunity to design a temporary installation for display at the Museum’s courtyard. Architects and designers are urged to create projects which address issues such as sustainability, re-use and re-cycling. Providing a popular urban venue for the summer, these installations aim to protect visitors from the heat of the city, host events and create social spaces for Istanbullus and visitors.
The projects resonated with the jury, MoMA and Istanbul Modern on a number of levels. The jury president Suha Özkan was most moved by the project’s deep historical connection ‘to more than two centuries of urban history’. The MoMA curator Pedro Gadanho, meanwhile, finds it playful, innovative, timely; a multi-layered installation that fully engages the spirit of the YAP.
‘Istanbul Modern is located in an area where the Bosphorus reaches the centre of the city and has been used as a port for a thousand years,’ adds Istanbul Modern’s programme coordinator, Çelenk Bafra. ‘Due to its location, this area is the city’s face to the world, hosting its industrial, commercial and cultural buildings, while often undergoing changes parallel to the city’s turbulent history. The project forms an attitude toward the fate of the area awaiting a renewal.’
And this is indeed what makes the project so special: it asks people think more critically about urban renewal, sustainability and the impermanence of buildings – topics that are affecting Istanbul in a gargantuan way. Maybe with more projects like this set up in public spaces, the municipalities will consider the speed with which they are allowing the often unnecessary urban renewal projects happening in the city. Here’s to (summer) dreaming.
The installation will be displayed until November 15, 2015. An exhibition curated by Bafra and Pelin Derviş is on view at the museum’s pop-up exhibition area until August 2. The exhibition features models, visuals and videos of the projects proposed by the 2014–15 finalists. A side programme of events, including concerts, performance art, workshops, talks and open-air film screenings, will also take place. Check the museum's website for details.