Atatürk Cultural Center

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Atatürk Cultural Center at Taksim Square
Front façade of Atatürk Cultural Center during May 19 celebrations.
Posters, banners and flags on the AKM building, during the 2013 protests.

Atatürk Cultural Center (Turkish: Atatürk Kültür Merkezi), also simply called AKM, is a cultural center in Istanbul. As the focal point of Taksim Square, it is not only a multi-purpose cultural center and opera house, but an icon of Istanbul. The AKM is considered an important example of Turkish architecture from the 1960s.[1]


Two Turkish architects, Feridun Kip and Rüknettin Güney, proposed the building of the center on May 29, 1946, and work began on the building's foundation until funding was halted in 1953. In 1956, construction resumed with Hayati Tabanlıoğlu as the architect. The building, originally called the Istanbul Culture Palace, was finished after 13 years and was dedicated on April 12, 1969,[2] twenty-three years after the 1946 proposal. However, a fire broke out 19 months later on November 27, 1970, during a performance of Arthur Miller's play The Crucible (the Turkish language version being Cadı Kazanı, "The Witch's Cauldron"). There was no loss of life in the fire but with the building IV. A part of the goods brought from the Topkapı Palace also burned ( a caftan belonging to Murad IV , a valuable Qur'an, a picture showing Murat IV) for the play of Murad . The source of the fire could not be detected.

By June 2008, the cultural center was taken out of use for renovations.[3] The center has been closed since then, when a major refurbishment to bring the building up to date before Istanbul took over the title of European Capital of Culture in 2010. The AKM is a model of environmentally friendly preservation. The main visible addition are the louvers onto the aluminum façade as part of the energy-saving design strategy. The modernization works were designed by renowned Turkish architecture firm Tabanlıoğlu Mimarlık.[4]

The Board for the Protection of Cultural Property decided on 31 December 2009 that the building has to be renovated as it stands.[5] On 9 April 2012, a tender was held for the renovation project. The re-opening of the AKM was planned for 29 October 2013, the Republic Day. The renovation cost budget amounted to ₺ 70 million (approx. US$39 million). The project was stopped, however, in May 2013.[3] That year, it was reported that the AKM is to be demolished as part of the proposed redevelopment plans for the Taksim Gezi Park and Taksim Square area and replace it with another opera house and a mosque.[6] During the Gezi Park protests, which began on 28 May 2013, a great number of protesters went up in the night to the roof of the AKM with torches. Due to risk of collapse, the roof was evacuated.[7] The police occupied the empty building and set it up as a logistic center.[3] By February 2015, it came out that the 7-year-long empty building was plundered, its technical installations, lighting and audio equipment as well as many other objects were sold at second hand markets or junk shops even though the building was under police protection.[5]


Original Interior of the building.
Original Interior of the building.

The AKM is built on a ground of 31,702 m2 (341,240 sq ft) and has a building plan area of 14,606 m2 (157,220 sq ft) with a useful area of 52,000 m2 (560,000 sq ft).[8] The complex comprises the "Grand Stage", a hall with a 1,317 total seat capacity hosting theater acts of Turkish State Theatres and performances of the Turkish State Opera and Ballet, and the "Concert Hall", a second hall with a capacity of 502 seats for concerts, meetings and conferences as well as an exhibition hall of 1,200 m2 (13,000 sq ft) at the entrance. There are also the "Chamber Theatre" with 296 seats, "Aziz Nesin Stage" with 190 seats and a cinema hall with 206 seats.

Until 2008, the center has been the home to the

  • Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra and Choir (İstanbul Devlet Senfoni Orkestrası ve Korosu),
  • Istanbul State Modern Folk Music Ensemble (İstanbul Devlet Modern Halk Müziği Topluluğu) and
  • Istanbul State Classical Turkish Music Choir (İstanbul Devlet Klasik Türk Müziği Korosu).

During the summer and Information months, AKM has hosted the Istanbul Arts and Culture Festival.

New building[edit]

For the construction of a new building to replace the original AKM, demolition works began on 13 February 2018, after it was abandoned ten years before.[9] The demolition completed after nearly three and half months on 30 May the same year.[10] On 10 February 2019, construction of the new complex began with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The new cultural complex will comprise five sections having a total area of 95,000 m2 (1,020,000 sq ft).[11] It will feature in addition to theatre, cinema and concert halls, an exhibition center, a convention hall, a library, a museum, an art gallery, cafés and restaurants. The architect of the new building is Murat Tabanlıoğlu, the son of Hayati Tabanlıoğlu, who designed the AKM built in 1969.[9] The construction is planned to last 20 months. Its cost is budgeted to ₺ 850 million (approx. US$162 million).[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "1960's (Turkish Architecture in the Republican Period)". Archived from the original on September 13, 2011. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  2. ^ Yalav-Heckeroth, Feride. "Turkey's Most Striking Works of Modern Architecture".
  3. ^ a b c "AKM bugün açılacaktı ama, 'polis karakolu' oldu". Hürriyet (in Turkish). 29 October 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  4. ^ Arkitera website in English
  5. ^ a b Çıplak, Ceren (21 February 2015). "Koca AKM talan edildi". Cumhuiyet (in Turkish). Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  6. ^ Plans for Gezi Park. BBC News. Retrieved 4 June 2013
  7. ^ "AKM'nin çatısı boşaltıldı!". Sözcü (in Turkish). 8 June 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  8. ^ "İstanbul Atatürk Kültür Merkezi" (in Turkish). Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Demolishing work at Istanbul's historic Atatürk Cultural Center kicks off". Hürriyet Daily News. 14 February 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Atatürk Kültür Merkezi'nin yıkımı tamamlandı". CNN Türk (in Turkish). 30 May 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Istanbul's new cultural complex to be opened in two years". Hürriyet Daily News. 10 February 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2019.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°02′12″N 28°59′16″E / 41.03667°N 28.98778°E / 41.03667; 28.98778