Openings Museums Turkey

Koç art empire to expand with Istanbul space

Family foundation hires London architects Grimshaw Architects to design contemporary art museum

Grimshaw’s design for the city’s new museum, Koç Contemporary

One of Turkey’s most powerful art dynasties, the Koç family, has moved a step closer to building a major museum for its contemporary art collection. The Vehbi Koç Foundation, established in 1969 by Koç Holding, the largest conglomerate in Turkey, has chosen the London-based Grimshaw Architects to design the building. Koç Contemporary, which is due to open in 2016, will be in the central Beyoglu area of Istanbul, the same district as Istanbul Modern, which opened in 2004.

“The creation of Koç Contemporary will result in a landmark building entirely derived from its context,” says a Grimshaw press statement, referring to the use of mosaic tiles in traditional Ottoman architecture, which has provided the inspiration for the exterior.

The Vehbi Koç Foundation already runs a plethora of museums across Istanbul, including Arter, a contemporary art exhibition space, which opened in 2010. This four-storey space housed in an historic building on one of Istanbul’s main thoroughfares, Istiklal Avenue, is owned by Omer Koç, the vice chairman of Koç Holding, and one of Turkey’s most high-profile contemporary art collectors.

The Sadberk Hanim Museum, based at the Azaryan Mansion in Istanbul’s northern Sariyer district, is described as Turkey’s “first private museum” on the foundation’s website. It houses the private collection of Sadberk Koç, the wife of Vehbi Koç. Meanwhile, the Koç group’s decision to sponsor the Istanbul Biennial until 2017 further reflects its influence.

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