Tabanlioglu Architects reveal works at the Beyazit Public Library in Istanbul

Beyazit Public Library in Istanbul has been revealed.
Tabanlioglu Architects’ design for the Beyazit Public Library in Istanbul has been revealed. The concept features a series of glass bookshelf pavilions
(Image credit: Emre Dörter)

Updating and fine-tuning the oldest and largest library in Istanbul is not a project for the faint hearted, but Turkish international firm Tabanlioglu Architects rose to the occasion, embarking on the sensitive re-organisation of the interior and restoration of the State Library's fabric in 2006.

Located on Beyazit Square, the library was first founded in 1884 and sits in a historical context, adjacent to the Beyazit Mosque – the oldest surviving imperial mosque in the city – and located on the main axis of Istanbul's historical heart, Divan Yolu. Previous uses of the building had involved it being everything from a soup kitchen to a traditional inn (or 'caravanserai').

The architects placed a light and transparent inflatable membrane structure over the building's open courtyard. This filters light through and creates a controlled atmosphere for books and visitors, while abstractly mimicking the library's iconic domed roof.

Transparent glass box pavilions now dot the interior, creating a modern counterpart to the historical surroundings. These enclosed spaces are also able to ensure an optimum atmosphere in which to preserve the library's rare book and manuscript collection.

The flow through the building was tweaked in order to best serve its modern function, so the main entrance is now through the aforementioned courtyard. Modern Turkish publications sit on the second floor, and periodicals on the first, while the ground level houses the rarer, more precious objects of the collection in their cubic boxes.

During the construction works, the remains of a Byzantine church were revealed. These have been preserved and can now be enjoyed through a glass roof – a gesture that highlights Tabanlioglu Architects' careful restoration work and minimal intervention, aimed at respecting the spirit of the historical library.

The structures provide optimum storage to the library

The structures provide optimum storage conditions for archaic books and manuscripts

(Image credit: Emre Dörter)

The library’s courtyard is covered with an inflatable membrane structure

The library’s courtyard is covered with an inflatable membrane structure; the space also acts as the complex’s new entrance

(Image credit: Emre Dörter)

Library can now be seen via a glass roof

The ruins of a Byzantine church, revealed during construction works, can now be seen via a glass roof

(Image credit: Emre Dörter)


For more information, visit the Tabanlioglu Architects website

Photography: Emre Dörter

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).