Opened in 2010 as a subsidiary of the Vehbi Koç Foundation, Arter moved to its new building in 2019, which marked the 50th anniversary of the Foundation. Designed by London-based Grimshaw Architects, Arter’s new building has assumed its place among the leading cultural buildings of the city.
For the architectural design of Arter’s new home, a project competition was initiated in 2013. The winners of this competition were globally renowned Grimshaw Architects who have taken the lead in the design process with contributions by Thornton Tomasetti, Max Fordham, and Neill Woodger Acoustics in their respective areas of expertise. The construction of the building was started in 2015 and completed in 2019.
Deriving from the concepts of transparency and fluidity, Arter’s new building is conceived as a versatile space, presenting multi-layered possibilities to discover, enjoy and engage in a closer dialogue with art. Arter was designed as an artistic and social meeting point eager to establish ties with its environment.
Offering a broad range of spatial and artistic experiences to its audience without severing their ties with the city, the building was planned as a dynamic “series of spaces” to ensure an enjoyable visit. Kirsten Lees, from Grimshaw Architects defines Arter as follows: “a complex, engaging totality that changes constantly depending on the viewer’s position creating a multi-layered, integrated and interdisciplinary public building. Arter’s varied programme offers opportunities to foster and create new synergies between art forms, while providing a focus for physical and intellectual interaction and the creation of innovative creative communities.”
Constructed as a versatile building that brings together different disciplines of art, inspires creativity, draws people in, and makes room for a dynamic and multidisciplinary programme structure, Arter consists of both visually and physically interconnected and intersected spaces. Arter’s main function areas are connected by a central atrium that serves as the heart of the building, which has an indoor area of 18,000 square metres. The six galleries and a terrace constitute approximately 5,000 square metres of dedicated exhibition areas spread on six floors.
The building also features two performance halls. A full-fledged “Blackbox” performance and exhibition space with a flexible seating structure for 332, Karbon, is equipped with state-of-the-art technical details and a tension wire grid system, allowing the crew to suspend any sound and light equipment, décor or work from the ceiling and quickly make technical changes between shows. With a seating capacity of 166 and a telescopic seating system, Sevgi Gönül Auditorium on the other hand is the principal venue for Arter’s film programme, conferences, and panels, as well as chamber concerts and examples of performing arts including dance and movement thanks to its sprung floor and wall panels transformable into mirrors. Both halls are installed with simultaneous translation systems and translation booths; they also offer flexible, multiple seating configurations with a flat-floor option, thus providing a facility for large-scale installations or projects that require multi-channel panoramic projection.
As the primary space for learning programmes, the Learning Studio consists of four units catering to different areas of use. The studio provides a flexible space for all kinds of events such as meetings, discussions, and workshops. Furthermore, the hands-on production area constitutes a facility for artists and visitors to produce their own works at Arter. Arter Library holds reference books on art, a collection of publications constantly updated in line with the exhibitions and events programmes, and magazines. The building also houses a bookstore featuring a selection of publications focusing on art, social sciences, non-fiction and children’s books, a bistro, and a backyard that caters to outdoor events.
Decked with green areas, raised pools, and benches, Arter’s landscape warmly welcomes visitors into the building, the façade of which is covered with rectangular planes of glass-fiber reinforced concrete. The planes comprised of 3D convex and concave rhomboid panels are complemented with the glazed and pearlized handmade ceramic surfaces. As the sun changes position throughout the day, the façade shines and glitters, letting light and shadow move to different parts of each plane, and mirrors the sky from the surface of the ceramics. Viewed from afar, the building is perceived as a rich palette of light, colour and texture thanks to its reflecting surfaces. Thus, the design of the building with its multi-layered structure both establishes a strong dialogue with contemporary architecture and alludes strongly to the architectural traditions of the city in which it is located.