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Article - SantralIstanbul : an international platform for arts, culture and education

Istanbul has followed the European tradition in the conversion of former abandoned industrial sites.

SantralIstanbul opened in 2007. Former industrial site converted into a multifunctional cultural center, Santralistanbul is the result of the urban redevelopment policy undertaken by Istanbul since a decade. Carried out by the Bilgi University Foundation (one of the 22 private universities of Istanbul), this project has created a new territory of art. The old power station has become a center of transmission and imagination. Its purpose is to be a bridge between cultural productions from the Balkans, Anatolia, the Caucasus, the Mediterranean, the East, Central Asia and Europe. Its organizers have shown great imagination in seeing no limits to culture and making the energy museum, the museum of contemporary art, an artists' residence, a library and a university campus coexist. Built of 118 000m ², this place totally dedicated to culture overlooks the Golden Horn and has hosted over 20 exhibitions since its opening.

A fantastic location

Santralistanbul is located on one of the oldest industrial districts of Istanbul. The pole was built on the site of the old power station Silahtarağa. Silahtarağa, first power station of the Ottoman Empire, was the only station to feed Istanbul until 1952 (when two other plants were built). Despite its closure, the central was not destroyed: it has even been well protected by an Act of the Ministry of Culture. This site has been recognized as ideal to host a cultural venue of this size. Although located on the European side of Istanbul, it straddles both sides and majestically overlooks the Golden Horn.

A cultural metropolis in its heyday

Santralistanbul was built in a metropolis that concentrates 99% of the country's cultural activity.  Istanbul has no rival in this sector nationwide. While Ankara is the capital, it does not develop its offer as Istanbul. The city of Europe and Asia wants to be a reference in the world of contemporary art and become part of the Art circuit. Santralistanbul is not the only project of this magnitude undertaken by the city. Many other sites are also converted. The Feshane, an old hat factory of the nineteenth century, was converted into an international center for congress and culture. Rahmi Koç Museum was also created on an old anchor foundry of the eighteenth century. Both examples complete the example of Santralistanbul: new territories of cultural transmission are developping in Istanbul. Santralistanbul is the largest of them in its scope. Entirely dedicated to culture that privileges imagination and transmission, it is a place of hope where creation, exchange and interdisciplinary prevail.


A contribution from the university of Avignon by Belma Susler

Credits : Getty Images