Renzo Piano Wraps Istanbul Modern In Facade “Evocative Of Fish Scales”

Renowned Italian architecture studio, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, has completed its first project in Turkey with the landmark Istanbul Modern museum. The museum is located in the historic Karaköy waterfront, where the Bosphorus and Golden Horn waterways meet, and covers an area of over 10,000 square meters.

Design inspired by ships and sea creatures

Renzo Piano Building Workshop's Istanbul Modern museum in Turkey is a top-heavy structure inspired by ships and sea creatures. The aluminum facade reflects the iridescence of fish scales and the building's outline echoes the area's history as a harbor. The museum features large expanses of glass on the ground floor offering views of the waterfront promenade and rooftop terrace with a reflective pool that serves as an extension of the Bosphorus.

The top-heavy structure is made up of three stacked rectilinear volumes, evoking the shape of a ship. The museum’s aluminium façade, chosen for its reflective qualities, mimics the iridescent nature of fish scales and reflects the changing colours of the sky and light. Renzo Piano Building Workshop said the building’s outline echoes the area’s history as a harbor, where ships of different sizes traveled back and forth between Europe and Asia, and a creature of the sea leapt from the Bosphorus onto the shore.


Transparent and accessible design

The ground floor features large expanses of glass offering views of the waterfront promenade. The museum’s library, a café, gift shop, education, exhibition, and event spaces are located on this floor. The first floor has galleries dedicated to photography, pop-up exhibitions, staff offices, a restaurant, terraces, and additional event and education rooms. Istanbul Modern’s permanent collections are housed on the second floor. The rooftop terrace features a reflective pool that serves as an extension of the Bosphorus.

Other architecture projects in Istanbul

Foster + Partners has completed an Apple Store in Istanbul featuring two travertine stone walls, and Turkish architecture studio Salon Alper Derinbogaz has designed pandemic-resistant offices for Yıldız Technical University.


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