June 30, 2014

Memo From Istanbul: New Builds

Considering the Eastern tradition of the bazaar, it makes sense that Istanbul is dotted with malls, malls and more malls, with more on the way. The Mall of Istanbul opened this June with an indoor theme park. When Maslak 1453 opens next year with a 4,767-foot-long shopping promenade (its length referring to the date that Christian Constantinople became Muslim), it is expected to be the biggest real-estate development in Europe. Other next-generation developers like Zorlu are, inconsistently, incorporating a more ranging vision of design in their residential interiors; Nef has even reformulated urban apartment living by selling smaller private spaces linked to a plethora of pay-per-use public rooms—cigar dens, cinemas and even Playstation lounges—by international and local designers.

Other mega-projects include a canal paralleling and a third bridge spanning the Bosphorus that, out-Mosesing Robert Moses, will uproot the city’s only forest and establish an entirely new city called New Istanbul; Zaha Hadid’s master plan for Kartal; and a Daniel Liebeskind project lately in the news for the death of construction workers.

A metro line running under the Strait that now connects Europe and Asia and Emre Arolat’s Sancaklar Mosque, with its intersecting planes and pregnant voids, both opened early this year after long delays. And in a gesture that can’t help but recall Gezi, the entire ceiling of Nopa, a restaurant designed by Autoban, is a retractable skylight supported by walls sown with vertical gardens.

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