In 1916 an invited architectural competition was held in order to decide the scheme of a building which should have celebrated the alliance between Germany and Turkey. The never built construction was meant to be a multi-purpose complex able to host various cultural activities with spaces for concerts, exhibitions, festivals as well as a library and a cafe.
The competiton for the “Haus der Freundschaft” (House of Friendship) in Istanbul was opened to twelve German early modernist architects, among them: Peter Behrens, Walter Gropius, Theodor Fischer and German Bestelmeyer who was declared as the winner.
A deeply imaginative, yet rationally controlled project was the one submitted by Hans Poelzig (see also on Socks: the Festspielhaus in Salzburg and the Sulphuric Acid Factory in Luboń, Poland), an anti-rethorical exercise in finding a common language among East and West.
The architect proposed an expressionist symmetrical building made of a series of cascading terraces with a double set of stairs on the extremes of each level, in one version of the project, or a continuos ascending arched gallery on the sides of the building, in a posterior version. The project follows a strictly rational plan articulated on a grid distorted to follow the site limits. The plan develops around two main courtyards, while the facades materialize the geometrical control through an obsessive sequence of elongated arches.
A series of drawings collages show the massive building as a landmark emerging from the skyline of the city.
British historian Kenneth Frampton considered Poelzig’s project as an early example of “horizontal megaform” which assumes the connotation of a geological formation, outcropping from the Istanbul’s skyline.
Megaform as urban landscape, Kenneth Frampton
Other articles about Poelzig on Socks
europeana.eu (about 70 images of all the stages of the project), Marten Kullman on Flickr and Archive of Affinities
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