How have you interpreted the historical heritage here at Tersane Istanbul?
Tersane-i Amire (the Imperial Shipyard) first developed as a place to build warships. At the time, the Venetians were in competition with the Ottomans, and they were building ships in Arsenale di Venezia, which we all recognize today as the venue of the Venice Biennale. Then these ships fought each other in the Mediterranean. There is an important difference between the two shipyards: Arsenale is carved into the land like a pool. Ottomans, on the other hand, had built Tersane-i Amire at a river mouth that is sheltered from the strong winds of the Black Sea. Thanks to the protection the surrounding hills provide, the weather in the Golden Horn is usually calm, even when there are big storms in the Bosphorus. That special feature has made the spot a perfect natural marina throughout its history.
Over time, ships that were built in the shipyard changed not only in terms of technology but in their size, as well. While they were predominantly wooden in earlier ages, steel and steam were introduced during the Industrial Age. Some of the existing buildings were eventually dismantled and replaced by new ones to serve new functions. If you look at the Arsenale in Venice, you could see that it is frozen at a certain date. Here in Tersane-i Amire, on the other hand, we have found many additional structures that were made at different periods.
The Valide (Empress) Slipway is a good example. This shipbuilding sleigh, which we see covered with a wooden roof in old photographs, is coming back to life. Although its wooden roof did not survive, we are making an iron reconstruction of it for this project. It will look like an entrance door to Tersane Istanbul, when you look at it from the sea.
The naval shipyards of Taskizak and Camialti had gradually been relocated to Tuzla outside the city, years before the tender for the urban regeneration of the shipyards was announced. Only a limited area where repairs were being made and a military section had been left behind. This is a place under the protection of the Council of Monuments.
We are not constructing brand-new tall buildings for Tersane Istanbul, as we are bound by the volumes of the existing historic buildings and a maximum height restriction of 21 meters. Here, we have been doing everything step by step, learning at each stage. As we removed the plaster of the old buildings, new things came up that made us re-draw the project. The shipyard is made up of several layers, just like the city itself. Here, it is possible to track all the changes Istanbul went through from the Byzantine to the Ottoman and the Republican eras.