Istanbul Bilgi University is located at the tip of the Golden Horn, on a site which used to house Istanbul’s first electricity-generating power plant that was created in 1910. When the university acquired the land, it also got many of the facilities related to the power plant, such as a huge iron-girded building with a foundation 65 meters deep that was meant to keep the structure from sinking into the swampy ground. The university eventually reinforced this building with three times more steel to make it earthquake-proof and are now using it as an art gallery and exhibition center.
This building (does it have a name? anyone know?) is a steampunk’s paradise, with texture and grunge galore all accentuated by the daylight that streams in through hundreds of glass windows (a luxury in factories, or so I hear). Although the university nearly went broke renovating this space, the result is breathtaking. Compared to the mosques and cathedrals we have been visiting, this space struck me as another kind of church–a church dedicated to industrialism, capitalism, revolutionism.
The gallery area of the building will soon host a two-month-long exhibition about the history of the city of Istanbul, although Professor Murat Güvenç (a prolific and accomplished urban planner/geographer/historian) was generous enough to give us an advance tour of the under-construction gallery and later a lecture on his findings regarding the history and demography of the complex and ever changing city.