As far as architecture exhibitions go, they usually range between showing drawings, photos and sketches, and a selection of working and final models. It is rather rare to have the luxury to experience in real size the architects’ work, which is why the recently inaugurated Istanbul and Beyond show on Istanbul-based Tabanlioglu architects at the RIBA was such a pleasant change.
The show offers a virtual experience of some of the architects’ work, with large screens covering the gallery’s walls, showing large, almost life-size projected images of the buildings’ interiors, and their views. Re-creating these small samples of space, the visitor can – virtually – walk in the buildings, look out the windows, and get a feel of the real-life thing.
For their first major retrospective, Tabanlioglu chose London, because, as they explain, ’it has now become very much the centre for contemporary architecture and design’. So, they decided to approach the RIBA, who were delighted to work with them in this retrospective; in fact the first major non-UK-based firm retrospective in almost 10 years, since their Kisho Kurakawa exhibition in 1998.
The architects also chose Japanese visual artists WOW for the exhibition design, while on sale at the same time at the RIBA is T-Projects, a special edition on the practice’s work, designed by Dutch book designer Irma Boom, including photography by Helen Binet, Cemal Emden, Murat Germen, Thomas Mayer and Jeroen Musch.
Presenting built works like the Dogan Media Centre in Ankara and the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Tabanlioglu are looking forward to the future, and to further developing their work and company beyond the Turkish borders. Run by Murat and Melkan Gürsel Tabanlıoglu, the practice is already building the Sapphire Istanbul, one of the city’s highest skyscrapers, while their early portfolio includes well-known examples of Turkish Modernism like the Atatürk Cultural Center (1969), and there is no doubt that their aspirations will be soon fulfilled.