New Atatürk Cultural Centre to be finished this year, Turkey says

Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy has said that the reconstruction of Istanbul’s iconic Atatürk Cultural Centre (AKM) will be completed by the end of this year, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.

“It will have one big and one small hall, [the second one] with a capacity of hosting 800 people…,” Anadolu quoted Ersoy as saying.

“We are turning this area into a centre serving around the clock,” Ersoy added.

According to Ersoy, all construction works on the site in Istanbul’s Taksim Square should be completed by the end of 2020.

“We will open the street by the end of this year. We will also try to finish the centre too,” he added.

On Nov. 6, 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the new project for the Ataturk Cultural Centre, and said it would be a “symbolic” site of Istanbul.

The new building will be a world-class opera hall that might host over 2,000 people, a theatre hall that seats over 800, backstage rooms, and fair areas.

There will also be restaurants and meeting rooms in the centre.

The future of the AKM was among the issues that led the protestors to take the streets during the anti-government Gezi protests.

The AKM, opened in 1969, was one of the icons of Turkish modernist architecture and had a symbolic cultural value.

Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party came up with various projects for reconstructing Taksim Square which included first planning to renovate the AKM, but they later decided to demolish, re-design and rebuild it. The demolition of the building began in February 2018.