The beautiful Beyazit Public Library in Istanbul is much more than a historical structure. It is a part of this city’s fabric, a symbol of its once-mighty past and heritage, and proof of its status as one of the world’s most preferred learning centers, at its pomp. Part of the Kulliyah of the Beyazıt Mosque that was originally built in 15006, the library brings together drastically different worlds – a present that is vibrant, multicultural and modern, and a past that evokes images of the royalty and splendor of the Ottoman empire. Restoring and upgrading this treasure chest of knowledge is an unenviable job that was taken up and carried out in a smart fashion by Tabanlioglu Architects.
Much of the old exterior and the dome-shaped structures that make up the library were carefully restored, and the concrete roofs above the courtyards were replaced with custom inflatable membranes that bring in light and natural freshness. But the most prominent addition to this vast library is the series of new black glass boxes that were placed carefully to ensure that the existing walls are completely undisturbed. While most others might have opted for more intrusive additions, Tabanlioglu took the path of a less invasive and more impactful option that is practical and simply stunning!
Internally, the levels of the library and different areas were carefully reorganized, taking into consideration the traffic, the rarity of the manuscripts, and the ever-changing needs of the place. Air conditioned transparent cabins on the ground floor now house the rare and delicate ancient manuscripts from Ottoman, Arabic and Persian backdrops, while the first floor holds the periodicals and the second floor welcomes you with modern Turkish books.
Evenly lit and relaxing reading rooms along with an exclusive exhibition area, backyard, shop space and café complete the exquisite transformation of this iconic Turkish library. [Photography: Emre Dörter]