“On Istanbul Maritime Museum and TEGET”

Meltem Sahin
7 min readJan 9


Winner of the “Istanbul Maritime Museum Architectural Design Competition”, Istanbul Maritime Museum can be considered a prominent example of “civic museum architecture” in Turkey. Designed by TEĞET which is an important contemporary Turkish architects’ group, the project holds some important features due to its location and characteristic position in the era. Its importance comes from being the first contemporary museum designed for a historical collection in the country and the first public building built on the shore of the Bosphorus. Although it is completed in 2010, it could open in 2013, and in my perception, the visitors were able to fully experience the building starting in 2015 as the restoration of the old museum building and some other additions were still going on.

Strategic location alongside Bosphorus

The architects say they were lucky enough as the site was not under strict conservation rules dedicated by Bosphorus Legislative Department and National Monuments Council. So, they had the opportunity to build a contemporary structure on the shore of the Bosporus which adds to the silhouette of the shore.

About this, TEĞET stated on their website:

“It stands as a singular opportunity when it comes to building a contemporary structure on Bosphorus, where strict conservation rules have been observed both by Bosphorus Legislative Department and National Monuments Council.”

Although the architects take this opportunity as an advantage of creating a contemporary building at the same time they do not forget about the historical textures and references of Dolmabahçe Palace and Çırağan Palace. They create a façade that will support the dynamics of these two palace façades, and they pay attention not to exceed the palaces’ height. Besides these, museum publicity poses an important contribution to the characteristics of the Bosphorus as it mainly constitutes private structures of houses, hotels, and restaurants. So, it is possible to say that Istanbul Maritime Museum is one of the rare public architecture examples on the Bosphorus shore.

Respect to Dolmabahçe and Çırağan Palaces

Alongside being aware of the introduced structures’ possible effects on the coastline of the Bosphorus, the designers were also aware of the surrounding values and characteristics of Barbaros Square, Dolmabahçe Street, Sinan Pasha Mosque, and Beşiktaş Çarşı. And by keeping these values in mind, they introduce three unique façades that are shaped according to that characteristic which is assumed to help the building form contextual relations. However, the challenges faced, and the impact of the environment seems to change the designed scheme and decrease some planned values. Mehmet Kutukcuoglu, in his interview on XXI, says they faced many challenges like the site being squeezed into crowded Besiktas, integration issues with the registered old building, 2–40m boat dimensions and their inhabitance in the structure, the rainwater infrastructure that cannot be replaced or redirected and the boats existing in the old boathouse that cannot move away during construction (Kutukcuoglu, 2014). For this, they provided solutions like completing the construction in two stages not to harm antique boats, providing integration strategies to the old structure, designing the façade due to the dimensions of the boats as a “glove” ( and providing setting back effect on the Dolmabahçe Palace façade to create a public space and a relax point over the crowded Dolmabahçe Street.

The existing situation on site

All these concerns and design decisions seem to add value to the design. However, there are still unexpected or unseen side effects of the museum on its interior and environmental characteristics. One side of the issue is the carefully planned façade that has unique architectural dynamics and discourse of “posing the boats with the Bosphorus Sea” by providing transparent, full-height glasses. At this point, it is proper to say that this decision merges the ground with the sky and merges with the pool introduced in front of the Bosphorus façade, it completes the missing piece and forms an experience starting from the ground and going through the sky. On the other side, although designed carefully with Low-E glass systems, this fully glazed display of old artifacts is claimed to harm the artifacts due to improper natural lightning conditions (Arpacıoğlu, Diri, and Özgünler, 2013).

A screenshot from the “article” discussing the impacts of sunlight on the historical artifacts (Arpacıoğlu, Diri, and Özgünler, 2013)

About the recession that also helped the office to win the architectural competition, it is right to say that it could not achieve its potential and planned “urban value”. The architects stated that they forced the client (Turkish Naval Forces) to have this “urban recession” although the client did not believe a military museum should be open to the public and should give an urban ground in front of its façade on the street. However, architects were able to convince them that it will add to the design and urban life. Mehmet Kutukcuoglu once stated (Kutukcuoglu, 2013):

“Entrance from the main street right across Beşiktaş market is more convenient so that the building may set up a relationship with the city. Here, the building is set back creating its square(…)”

Although it was quite a meaningful act, probably because of the museum’s further policies on museum urban relations, the perception of “military” services and their identity on the site and the closed street on the hotel side affected this present situation and the setback ended up being just a void that people only pass through but do not spend time or hold activities.

The setback that didn’t work

So, all these decisions were the ones that helped TEĞET win the architectural competition. However, they also had problematic and unexpected consequences that are caused by unseen environmental factors and design impacts.

TEĞET, in its architectural statement for the competition, says

“Beşiktaş’taki mevcut Deniz Müzesi, İstanbul’un merkezinde kaybolmuş, unutulmuş bir komplekstir. Geliştirilen öneri, kuytuda kalmış paha biçilmez içeriğiyle beraber, İstanbul Boğazı kıyısındaki bu alanı şehrin kullanımına sokar. (…) Tasarlanan yeni İstanbul Deniz Müzesi kompleksi, açık hava sergi alanı olarak değerlendirilen bir avlunun etrafında kurgulanır. Kayıkhane İstanbul Deniz Müzesi’nin ana koleksiyonunun sergilendiği mekândır. Kayıkhane, en batıda Kadırga’nın sergilendiği ilk holden en doğuda çelik köprüyle bölünen son hole kadar denize uzanan parmaklar olarak şekillenir. Eski hayatlarında olduğu gibi rıhtıma dizilen kayıklar denize dönmek ister.”

was mentioning that the boats will be perceived as if they desire to return to the sea thanks to the transparent, fully glazed façade. However, the police cars standing in front of the Bosphorus façade is an unexpected input that broke this carefully planned design decision.

Broken relation with Bosphorus due to police cars

Similarly, the merits of the project mentioned in the jury report said

“Müzenin genel sergileme konseptinin bina formu, iç mekân kurgusu ve dışa yansımasındaki sadelik ve başarı; Dolmabahçe Caddesi üzerinden yaklaşımda ve girişte oluşturulan etkili kamusal alan; seçilen taşıyıcı sistem kurgusunun olanaklı kıldığı kesintisiz sergileme ortamı; bina strüktürü ile bu kurgunun özgün ve başarılı bir şekilde bütünleştirilmesi; oluşturulan galerili iç mekân kurgusunun sunduğu çok boyutlu algılama olanağı; saltanat kayıklarının sergilenmesi üzerine geliştirilen kavramsal yaklaşımın mekânda somutlaştırılabilmesindeki başarı; deniz cephesindeki su unsurunun kayıkların sergilendiği mekânda yaratacağı yansımaların mekâna katkısı; deniz cephesinde kayıkların ölçülü bir şekilde dışardan algılanma olanağının sunulmasının başarılı bulunması nedeniyle…”

were also broken due to the changed and unpredicted dynamics of the environment. The “powerful” urban area in front of the Dolmabahçe Palace turned into an urban void that people only pass by, the “unbroken exhibition ground” lets a structural forest on the upper level, and the “multi-dimensional perception” is harmed because of the lack of enough space between the boats, the water relation is broken due to the police cars and the transparent façade led some concerns about the natural light impacts on the historical boat textures.

Although the ground floor let free, the structural system on the upper floor is quite dominant which affects the perception of the space
The spaces between don’t allow full perception. We can only see the main body of the boats but can’t fully understand its totality with the interior.

In summary, Istanbul Marine Museum can be considered an important attempt at Turkish contemporary museum architecture as it is challenging the publicity and the public borders of the Turkish military system. Although it had some unexpected impacts and results within its architectural decisions, it also gave the opportunity and ground to architectural criticism over a contemporary and quality museum designed by a prominent Turkish architect group in a quite important context.


Altınışık, B.(2016), “Teatral Bir Kırılganlık Olarak İstanbul Deniz Müzesi” TMMOB Mimarlar Odası İstanbul Büyükkent Şubesi, sayı: 55

Arpacıoğlu, Ü., Diri, C., ve Özgünler, M. (2013), İstanbul Deniz Müzesi Envanterleri Üzerinde Günışığının Olumsuz Etkilerinin Belirlenmesi, Mimarlıkta Malzeme Dergisi, N. 24, İstanbul, 45–85 s.

Kahvecioğlu, H. (2014), “Deniz Müzesi Üzerine Bir Değerlendirme”, Serbest Mimar, Türkiye Serbest Mimarlar Derneği, Sayı 14–15, s. 117–119

Kütükçüoğlu, M. (2013), “Teğet Mimarlık ile Son Projeleri Üzerine”, yay. haz. H. Z. Yüksel, Seramik, Türkiye Seramik Federasyonu Dergisi, Sayı 44, s. 26–31

Kütükçüoğlu, M. (2014), “Tersaneye Öykünen Müze Binası”, yay. haz. H. Ertaş, XXI, Sayı 127, s. 32–37

Uçar, E. (2014), “İstanbul Deniz Müzesi”, Seramik, Türkiye Seramik Federasyonu Dergisi, Sayı 44, s. 32–39



Meltem Sahin

Currently @TUM, Munich. Graduate of METU, B.Arch. // instagram: @meltemsahin11 @oncekahvem // meltemsahin.rocks/