The Architectural Review Esma Sultan



Istanbul still has many enigmatic ruins, rarely explained In guidebooks. and often almost Impossible to date unless you arc a real expert: is it sixteenth century or eighteenth, or even basically Byzantine? Until recently. Esma Sultan was one of these. In the old fishing village of Ortakoy on the Bosporus, the late eighteenth-century brick palace was a summer retreat for the daughter of a sultan. It was burnt down about 100 years ago. and became a useless but picturesque shell

Now. Ortakoy is almost under the shadow of the Bosporous suspension bridge, and is very
much part of the great city. Yet it still retains a good deal of its village atmosphere, with colorful houses round a gem of a seaside Baroque mosque, and the area has become popular as a focus of entertainment, artistic life and a slightly recherche tourist center.

The palace shell is next to the mosque, and in the '90s. the Marmara hotel group realized the place's potential, and decided to make it into a center for concerts and exhibitions. Esma Sultan proved so successful that the developers contacted GAD Architecture to make a Structure that would allow all
weather use - though Istanbul can be baking in summer, it can be very cold and wet in winter as the wind buffets down between grey planes of sea and sky.

It was decided from the first to keep the enigmatic brick walls. The architects responded to them by creating an inner glass box. containing a bar and a restaurant on the ground floor and a flexible event space on the upper one. As a result, the nineteenth-century shell can still be appreciated both outside and in Its massive presence shades the planar glass walls of the box. which would have been impossible to make as pure as