A Vitra tile factory, the Zorlu Centre, and Taksim Square: day two of the Kiosk contest participants trip to Istanbul
This is ‘technical day’, and early in the morning we cross the Bosphorus to the Asian side. Istanbul’s population has doubled in two decades to 14 million but unofficial estimates put it closer to 20 million. As we drive towards our next stop – a Vitra tile factory – passing mile after mile of new build housing, the bigger figure seems plausible.
Inside the factory we watch a never-ending stream of tiles being produced. Powdered clay is moulded and compressed to make row upon row of little squares that are cajoled and nudged into line before being whizzed off to the kilns for firing. Further on, two women skilfully touch up tiles while etching machines work tirelessly and operatives stack and sort.
Leaving the factory behind, we take a tour of three local manufacturers’ showrooms; Yüksel Seramik, Seranit and Kale, where a new tile product that can be bent into a gentle curve fascinates the group.
After lunch at Kale, we visit the Zorlu Centre, designed by Emre Arolat Architects. The ultra-modern four-tower mixed-use development is in stark contrast to the old-city architecture we experienced yesterday. It’s an impressive sight, very well built, a cross between Westfield and One Hyde Park. Half our group say their goodbyes here and leave to catch their flight to London.
That evening, those of us that remain visit a heaving Taksim Square and amble down Istiklâl Caddesi, Istanbul’s equivalent of Oxford Street. We rejoin Karakuş at a house party overlooking the Tophane armoury and Sinan’s Kiliç Ali Pasha mosque. They date from the 15th and 16th centuries, and sit alongside bohemian bars and cafés.